Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment says its electric vehicle (EV) permit scheme for migrant workers has enabled it to bring in more than US$ 22 million to the country.

The Ministry allowed migrant workers to import electrical vehicles as part of its measures to provide better benefits to migrant workers with the aim of encouraging them to remit money to Sri Lanka via authorized channels.

As of September 2023, the Ministry had issued nearly 200 permits to Sri Lankan migrant workers to import electrical vehicles.

The Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment says its move to grant import permits for electric vehicles has been praised as an innovative approach to increase remittances and its positive impact on the environment.

Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment introduced a series of initiatives aimed at benefiting the nation’s vital overseas workforce. The standout feature of these initiatives is the provision that allows Sri Lankan workers abroad to import EVs using their personal foreign currency reserves.

“Many people left the country. This country had become an unlivable country without law and order. Large-scale businessmen took their businesses to countries like Dubai. The exporters did not bring the money that the country deserved. The country fell into an abyss. It was then that we accepted the challenge to revive this country. We took responsibility. We came up with a program to bring dollars to the country. We took measures to bring benefits to migrant workers. Expatriate workers did not send dollars to the country because they had trust issues and because they could get enhanced currency rates by sending money through illegal methods such as Undiyal. To change that, we arranged to grant licenses for the import of electric vehicles to expatriate workers. When this proposal was brought, the cabinet fully supported it,” Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.

Although the initiative got delayed due to certain officials who adamantly opposed the initiative, Minister Nanayakkara said the President and the Cabinet of Ministers fully supported proceeding with the implementation of the project to allow migrant workers to import electric vehicles.

“The first remarkable outcome of this initiative is its impact on the Sri Lankan economy. By encouraging overseas workers to remit foreign exchange through authorized channels, the nation’s foreign reserves have received a significant boost. As of July 2023, remittances have reached an impressive $541 million, marking a remarkable 93 per cent increase compared to the previous year. This achievement underscores the success of these schemes and the financial stability they provide to the workers’ families back home.

“Equally important is the positive environmental impact of Sri Lanka’s EV initiative. In an era when countries are grappling with climate change and pollution, Sri Lanka has taken a giant step towards sustainability by promoting the use of clean, green transportation. By granting import permits exclusively for fully electric vehicles, the nation is actively reducing its carbon footprint,” Minister Manusha Nanayakkara said.

Additionally, the Minister said that the influx of electric vehicles into the country is expected to reduce the demand for traditional, fossil-fuel-powered vehicles, potentially leading to a decrease in second-hand vehicle prices.

“This benefits consumers and supports global initiatives to transition to cleaner modes of transportation,” he added. (NewsWire)