Sri Lanka has raised concerns with Italy over the current visa applications process.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Tilak Marapana had raised the concerns during a visit to Italy, the Foreign Ministry said today.
The Minister brought to the attention of the Italian authorities the difficulties faced by Sri Lankans to submit their visa applications through the outsourced processing agency to obtain visas to enter Italy as tourists or to visit relatives.
Marapana held bilateral discussions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs with Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of the Italian Republic, Manlio Di Stefano.
During discussions Minister Marapana thanked the Italian Government for the cooperation and assistance rendered to Sri Lanka. He reiterated that the two countries have maintained excellent relations over the years and that it is time to build and strengthen this relationship.
The Foreign Minister stated that Sri Lankan expatriate workers in Italy are required to make a pension contribution amounting to around 9 percent of their salary and that they qualify for a pension after working for 20 years.
The Minister observed that they collect this contribution together with the employer’s contribution only upon their reaching 68 years of age. He stressed that in such circumstances many of the workers do not get to enjoy this benefit as most of them work only for about 4-5 years in the country.
Minister Marapana requested the Italian authorities to consider adjusting this scheme so that a person would receive his contribution immediately upon relinquishing his employment in Italy, irrespective of the number of years worked and without having to wait until he has reached 68 years. He requested the Italian authorities to consider exempting expatriate workers from contributing to this pension scheme, if there were no legal constraints.
The Minister also brought to the attention of the Italian authorities the difficulties faced by Sri Lankans to submit their visa applications through the outsourced processing agency to obtain visas to enter Italy as tourists or to visit relatives. The Italian Undersecretary agreed to ease the difficulties encountered by Sri Lankan visa applicants. (Colombo Gazette)