I had a very simple demand: after paying an insurance premium for over 14 years without any claims, I wanted my share back.
Not surprisingly, I was told that all I would get from them is zilch. My money has gone to money heaven.
I was there, also to get a new insurance policy that “supposedly” covers any personal mishap overseas. Since I had not seen the money I paid for the 14 years, or received even a post-card from them, I demanded that I should be exempted from SLBFE Insurance since I do not need one. Ten thousand rupees in the event of my death is not going to make a difference – it’s not even sufficient to pay for the regular drinking binges at Buba for the boys. Besides, I already have Insurance Policies that should take care of everything, should the unthinkable happen.
I told the DGM that I was not ready to feed the fat-pigs in the government for no personal benefit in return.
Pity I didn’t have time to file Case on fundamental rights violation, I was leaving the country. Pity this country has no class-action cases to protect the collective masses.
Anyhow, after a half an hour of me trying to bring the roof down, the DGM talks to me off-the-record and says that this is an “unofficial bribe that everyone pays to leave the country on a residence visa” and that he would be surprised if we got anything in return. I told him that there is a huge number of people leaving on residence visas to many other countries except the Middle East and how come they are exempted from this “rule.”
At which point, he assured me that the rule applies to every single Sri Lankan, going to any country. But the data published on their own site proves otherwise:
Extract from the number of professionals who left for foreign employment in 2007:
SLBFE employs staff around the clock at the airport to check every single Sri Lankan passport, and they say only 24 professionals left for the UK, USA and Australia in total. Humor me, oh please!
Saudi Arabia 60,223 Kuwait 40,883 UAE 38,775 Qatar 38,728 Singapore 940 United Kingdom 17 Australia 6 United States 1
SLBFE charges professionals under two categories:
- Blue Collar workers – approx Rs 6,000/- (all inclusive), which is around 40% of the average monthly salary of a housemaid (US$ 150).
- White Collar workers – Rs 11,730 (all inclusive), which is less than 5% if one gets US$ 2,500 a month. Sri Lankans in the West make a lot more than US$ 2,500 a month in their white collar professions.
SLBFE is nothing more than a government scam that steals from the poor. Stealing from the poor who have begged, borrowed and mortgaged with greatest difficulty to find their passage overseas is a cardinal sin – and when in comes from the Government it is even worse.
Sri Lanka needs money, now more than ever.
If the idiots in the government wanted to make money out of Sri Lankans who work abroad, they should look at the white collar workers and the affluent Sri Lankans overseas, not the poor housemaids. If SLBFE staff knew their job or had any brains, they could have easily devised many ways to encourage the white collar workers to invest in Sri Lanka and offer great benefits in return.
At least the JR Jayawardene government had some tax concessions and benefits for those employees when they returned home. Now, there is nothing – no tax benefits, no “special” duty free concessions, no preferential treatment anywhere.
Sri Lankan migrant employees remit US$ 3,000,000,0000 annually but receive absolutely no benefits in return, while the local doctors who feed on the government payroll (and building mansions with their “private practice income”) get rewarded with duty free car permits every five years..! That’s how confused and f**ked up we are, in paradise.
PS: Please pardon my French, had to use it. :)