Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera ,inculcating a private-sector approach to boost efficiency and streamline operations ,announces several measures to upgrade the Immigration and Emigration Department, following a special inspection visit to the Department

Investment Promotion Minister Dhammika Perera yesterday announced several measures to upgrade the Immigration and Emigration Department, inculcating a private-sector approach to boost efficiency and streamline operations.

He introduced six key steps following a special inspection visit to the Department yesterday. This was the first task Perera took after being sworn in as a National List MP.

Immigration and Emigration Department has been in the media spotlight, as thousands of people who visit its head office in Battaramulla have faced multiple problems and undue delays in services over the last couple of months.

The pent-up demand for passports has increased significantly since the latter part of 2021 with the ongoing economic crisis.

The measures taken during Minister Perera’s visit yesterday include;\

1) establishing a separate counter for those going for foreign employment,

2) expanding the one-day passport issuance service to three more districts from Monday,

3) hiring a temporary server with his personal funds,

4) updating real-time tourist arrival data via an official Twitter handle,

5) fast-tracking issuance of long-term ‘Golden Paradise Visa’, and

6) extending spouse visa permit from one year to five years.

Minister Perera instructed department officials to take immediate steps to open a separate counter to issue passports for persons who have completed the submission of relevant documents to seek foreign employment.

The special counter has been now set up at the Head Office of the Department of Immigration and Emigration at Suhurupaya, Battaramulla.

Minister Perera said that those who have the relevant documents can go to this special counter and obtain passports without having to wait in the ‘usual queue’.

He also said steps have been taken to extend the one-day passport service to Matara, Kandy, and Vavuniya regional offices from Monday, 4 July.

The majority of the people who visit the Department daily at present are to obtain one-day service countrywide. Given the high transportation cost following the steep fuel hike, people had been waiting at the Department premises. Disgruntled people claimed they had to wait for over a month to get their passports.

Minister Perera, who is also a business tycoon, had hired a heavy-duty server with his personal funds, resolving one of the key issues in the Department over the past couple of months. This clearly shows how Perera is inculcating private-sector practices to overcome challenges with proactive measures to provide services to the public.

The survey has been hired for Rs. 900,000 with his personal funds.

The Department’s work was hindered a couple of times following a technical glitch in the database due to the severe congestion as a result of a large number of photos being uploaded to the system during the peak hours from 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. daily.

The hired survey will be temporary, till the Department finds a long-term solution to the technical glitch.

Minister Perera also said steps were taken to provide information on daily tourist arrivals. “From Monday (4 July), the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka will be published daily via the Department›s official Twitter handle,” he added.

Accordingly, the number of tourists who arrived on the previous day will be announced at 9.00 a.m. every day from next Monday.

Minister Perera also assured to iron out delays pertaining to the issue ‘Golden Paradise Visa’ which will boost foreign direct investments (FDIs). This long-term visa was a proposal by Minister Perera to the Government, which he submitted before becoming an MP.

The main setback to issuing the ‘Golden Paradise Visa’ is due to that the Central Bank has not approved commercial banks to accept deposits in this regard yet.

Minister Perera said he will soon discuss the matters in relation and provide quick solutions to expedite the process of visa issuances. He also said it was decided to extend the visa period for spouses from one year to five years and it will be implemented from Monday.

Courtesy:Daily FT