Public Security Ministry, Immigration officials miss final boarding call

Wednesday, 15 May 2024 00:00 –      – 80

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  • Parliamentary oversight body Committee on Public Finance Chair furious over absence of officials at key hearing over non-transparent outsourcing of visa processing 
Public Security Minister Tiran Alles
Immigration and Emigration Department Controller General I.S.H.J. Ilukpitiya
CoPF Chairperson

Dr. Harsha de Silva

Officials of the Ministry of Public Security and the Department of Immigration and Emigration were a no-show at the sitting of the Committee on Public Finance (CoPF) in Parliament yesterday.

The CoPF had summoned top officials of the two Government agencies to inquire about the controversial VFS Global deal related to the new visa issuance process. Accordingly, they were expected to be present at the CoPF sitting yesterday to provide clarifications on the deal and other issues pertaining to the process.

CoPF Chairperson Dr. Harsha De Silva yesterday in Parliament expressed his deep displeasure regarding officials who agreed to attend the meeting but failed to do so. He said it was a breach of parliamentary privilege and said that strict action would be taken in response. He highlighted that these officials had previously appeared before the CoPF and had committed to attending yesterday’s sitting to address the visa issue.

However, de Silva said that he received a sudden notification the previous night stating their inability to participate in the discussion. He said the reason cited was the loss of files during an office relocation in 2016, a justification deemed entirely unacceptable.

He stressed that strict measures will be taken against these officials in consultation with the members of the CoPF. Additionally, he asserted that there is no leeway for officials to evade appearing before the CoPF in such a manner.

The officials were summoned before the CoPF after the introduction of the new visa issuance system by VFS Global, a global visa processing service, and its associated charges came under scrutiny following a viral video featuring a Sri Lankan passenger expressing frustration over delays and additional processing fees imposed by the company at the Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA).

GBTS-IVS- VFS were awarded a contract to facilitate processing of visas for tourists. This resulted in a service fee of $ 18.5 in addition to convenience fee totalling up to $ 25 per ETA.