21 September, 2020

Blog

Mr. President $5000 For Dual Citizenship Is Too Much

By Lionel Bopage

Dr Lionel Bopage

Dr Lionel Bopage

Your Excellency, President Maithripala Sirisena

Presidential Secretariat

Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka

Your Excellency

Reinstatement of Dual Citizenship for Expatriate Sri Lankans

First of all, we extend our heartiest congratulations to you on being elected as the President of Sri Lanka to return the country to a parliamentary democracy that is free of corruption. We also wish to thank you for the many important measures implemented so far for the establishment of good governance in the country. We are certain that you will face the challenges ahead with courage and determination, having the wellbeing of Sri Lanka’s 21 million people at heart.

Our organisation – Australian Advocacy for Good Governance in Sri Lanka (AAGGSL) – is committed to positively subscribe to the establishment of practicing democracy and rule of law in Sri Lanka while respecting the rights and will of all its peoples. We are indeed happy to have played a small role in your dramatic victory by appealing to the Sri Lankan voters through electronic, radio and social media during the month long period of your election campaign.

This appeal of AAGGSL relates to the reinstatement of dual citizenship in Sri Lanka, a matter that has significant relevance to many Sri Lankans living overseas. As an advocacy group for good governance, we promote among other things, forward-looking policies for the advancement of future generations. It is for this reason we thought it necessary to highlight the legitimate concerns of thousands of expatriates, who long to reinstate their Sri Lankan citizenship.

As your Excellency is aware, in the last few decades, hundreds of thousands of people left Sri Lanka due to communal riots, war, political upheavals, military intimidation, reprisals, death threats and media muzzling. During the civil war many parents decided to send their young sons and daughters abroad for quality higher education in the safety of Western countries, such as Australia. Those who were granted permanent residency or asylum in foreign countries were able to obtain citizenship in those countries for a nominal sum of processing fees.

These men and women who have since become admirable citizens of other countries have a lot to offer in the rebuilding of our nation, but are unfairly inhibited from doing so. Their knowledge, expertise and wealth gained in the first world countries can be gainfully invested in the service and development of our motherland, thus reversing the ‘brain drain’ and capital flight that for too long has affected the country’s growth and prosperity.

But many expatriates, who were so hopeful of going back to Sri Lanka for good, buoyed by the recent positive developments, have expressed disappointment at the announcement that resumption of dual citizenship in Sri Lanka will cost $5000 per person! This we see as a significant financial impediment to those who want to invest in small business ventures in the country, as well as to parents who wish to cultivate our cultural values in their children. For a family of five, $25,000 is an exorbitant price for their return home as citizens, let alone the air fares and other ancillary expenses! Many professionals, technical experts and the wealthy, as well as skilled workers, educationists and healthcare workers – all find it as a total disincentive to their dream of one day giving back something valuable for the betterment of their countrymen.

It is to your credit, Mr. President, that following the initiatives taken by your government on matters of rule of law, democracy, judiciary and freedom of expression, many expatriates now feel that they can contribute constructively for the social and economic development of their country.

In the circumstances, we believe that Sri Lanka has a lot to gain by making the cost of dual citizenship for expatriates more equitable. We urge your Excellency to kindly take steps to reduce such costs to comparable levels of regional countries, thus help our expatriates’ heartfelt desire to return to, and invest in their motherland, practicable, affordable and sustainable.

Yours sincerely

Dr Lionel Bopage – President, Australian Advocacy for Good Governance in Sri Lanka

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Latest comments

  • 5
    15

    If having earned in dollars for more than 20-30 years you cant afford $5000 best not come to Lanka,$5000 is what you will pay for a used car (depreciating asset)or $1600×3 family members for tickets to Lanka (Spent)

    Whereas residency and Citizenship allows one to do so many things (own a house,buy land,start up business etc,live in Lanka on foreign currency earnings)This is a one off fee.

    $5000 is nothing and Lanka can easily attract foreign retirees who will come and spend in Lanka and not complain.

  • 4
    7

    If having earned in dollars for more than 20-30 years you cant afford $5000 best not come to Lanka,$5000 is what you will pay for a used car (depreciating asset)or $1600×3 family members for tickets to Lanka (Spent)

    Whereas residency and Citizenship allows one to do so many things (own a house,buy land,start up business etc,live in Lanka on foreign currency earnings)This is a one off fee.

    $5000 is nothing and Lanka can easily attract foreign retirees who will come and spend in Lanka and not complain.

    Family of five? Kids who have grown up abroad don’t want to live in Lanka so save the $5000 for you and Mrs.

  • 4
    9

    Give it free as long as all these expats are willing to pay for the free education they had.

    May be at least USD 5,000 for the primary and secondary education and another USD 5,000 for an under grad degree.

  • 3
    3

    Bopage probably is on the Pension.

    So even USD 10,000 for the Mr & Mrs is big bucks with the ass falling off the Aussie.

    But the Pros such as Doctors whinging about 5 grand is a bit bizarre..

    Obviously a Dr ,whether Medical or not, is not coming to the ex Homeland to make a quick buck..

    It must be some other more important reason, such as a good life in the Old age with servants and other creature comforts ,which are available at cheap rates.

    Or get a Government gig to give us Good Governance without Corruption.

    Or get the Universal Franchise to vote for PM Rudrakumaran’s referendum on Eelaam

    US diaspora hopefully realize that even the LKR earnings are taxed at US rates back in the new Homeland although they are on a dual…

  • 3
    0

    I can understand the concern of large families.

    But I do not know how different the new system is. When I went through it, for my large family the charge was $12,000. An alternative was offered to us: Invest $25,000 for 5 years. So I put that money in a fixed deposit at a Sri Lankan bank with the condition it cannot be taken out for 5 years. My 5 years are over but I have not touched it because it earns more than many accounts abroad. And I saved my $12,000.

    Let us see all the details of the new scheme before criticizing it. But I hope it will provide alternative paths to people who are genuine refugees.

    • 4
      3

      If the inflated fees was a revenue raising exercise, they might have made a mistake. In UK when the Dual Citizenship fees was under Rs.100,000 over the many years it was available, only about 3,200 people applied. I wonder how many would apply now when the scheme becomes operative. I suspect the Finance Minister has not grasped the advantages mentioned in the article or even the objectives for its initial introduction. The former Sri Lankans who left in the 60’s and 70’s must be reaching retirement age now and besides lucrative pensions that will be remitted to Sri Lanka, they might be having worthy experience and superior skills and knowledge they could impart for little or no monetary gain. Their accumulated capitals could open up businesses that could create much needed employments, but it appears we don’t need any of that.

      • 0
        3

        I am afraid your arguments are more fenestrated than a collander.
        The older generation, however eager they may be to rest their old bones in their motherland, would be restrained from returning permanently by the many ailments they’ve gathered over the years which tie them to the health service. (The doctors in Sri Lanka have been threatened with a Rs. 1 million fine for every prescription not from within an approved list of cheaper drugs), Neither are they likely to bring their wealth to a land which is culturally alien to their grown up children (who will never return permanently to Sri Lanka), and deny themselves the pleasure of seeing their grand children growing up.
        The main reason for wanting to return seems to be to retain ownership of the little wealth that has been left to them by their parents.

  • 3
    3

    One only has to look at the dialogue above to see how one sided some people’s arguments are. Of course there are pros and cons, many reasons why people leave a country and why they want to return. I don’t think there is “right” in any of these, its the applicable law in the land at the time.

    Therefore need of the hour is a properly assess each case on its merit on an individual or family basis within a set guidelines /parameters and decide on the granting of D/N and the fee.

    For e.g. While evidence such as, wealth inherited in SL, Acquired in SL since leaving, wealth bringing into SL, remittances to SL, education and professional qualifications, management / business skills acquired abroad, other specialist skills, and most importantly how those skills / wealth is going to be invested in SL, could be supporting an application, Criminal convictions abroad / SL, false claims of asylum (there are many of those!!, remember Canadians found out 70% asylum seekers visited SL once they got the Canadian Passport!!), illegally leaving and obtaining citizenship, intending to come to SL to promote hatred amongst races / division of the country etc etc should be counted as against and barred.
    However as most of the brains have left the county, not many people in the Dept of immigration and emigration will understand what I am talking about above and will act on some ministerial order which is written in a back of a fag packet. God Help SL!!!!!!!!!

  • 4
    5

    Mr Bopage’s point is quite valid.$5000.00per person is quite an exorbitant sum to charge for people who have a birth right to Citizenship in Sri Lanka.They are not looking for a retirement village but are motivated mostly by the genuine love to return home and make whatever contribution they can to their mother land.Many who have left Lanka have done well and there are quite many who as first generation migrants have struggled to get by in life and do not have a lot of disposable money simply to give away.On the other hand they will no doubt find many other ways of contributing to the advancement of the motherland on return.Some for example may have invaluable skills they would be able to pass on free of charge to their kith and kin and wider community in Sri Lanka and others business contacts and business ideas and entrepreneurial skills etc,.So to simply treat the Sri Lankan citizens wishing to reestablish ties with their motherland as a source collecting a fee is but only a short sighted policy that will yield no return to Sri Lanka.
    Also this opportunity will pass with the passing of the first generation as the second generation consisting of their children will be even much less inclined to seek dual citizenship in Sri Lanka in the future even if the scheme remains open.The bridge for the second generation to maintain connection with Lanka must be built by the first generation now.India apparently is making a huge effort to build its foreign diaspora through this kind of schemes.It cannot be all one way traffic with everything going for the Sri Lanka government to collect a little cash with no incentive to the overseas Sri Lankans to take up the offer.$3000.00 per person would be a fair compromise.There are many senior citizens who were compelled to leave Sri Lanka with their children but are now yearning to return and spend the rest of their days in Sri Lanka.Why should they not be allowed to do so.They would obviously not have the means to pay $5000.00 to return home but have sufficient to live in Sri Lanka without being a financial burden to the country whilst making the other contributions I spoke about above and more importantly building bridges for the younger generations overseas to maitain ties with Lanka for the mutual benefit of both parties.

  • 7
    2

    Why do folks wish to get dual citizenship? The reasons are many. For most I am guessing it might be the desire to return to the place of birth, to spend their remaining years. Others may wish to buy property or invest in businesses. Whatever the reason is, I am sure nearly all must have a great love for Sr Lanka and the way of life, culture and values, and will be more than willing to help build a great future for Sri Lanka. Many will bring back experiences and expertise which they will share as volunteers and help local professionals and the gov’t agencies. This is a huge human resource opportunity for the nation that needs to be made use of in a systematic manner. I’d like to suggest that a unit be set up in the Ministry of Planning to develop and implement a plan in consultation with Sri Lankan communities via the embassies. This could include, among other criteria, a list of expertise needed in SL and a point system like used by Australia and Canada to screen immigrants. A large fee for dual citizenship will discourage many. It might seem attractive to raise money in the short-term but not a very wise step if SL is serious about long term development. Some who have commented here clearly display their judgment clouded by their dislike for folks who have settled down in other countries. I ask them not to judge before they walk a mile in the shoes of these former SL citizens.

  • 3
    3

    Dr Lionel Bopage, with all due respect, if I may add, for an expat who has a ‘dying’ need to get his / her citizenship back, I don’t think a ‘one off’ US 5000 is a lot to pay for. So it’s all to do with how hungry one’s is to become a Sri Lankan citizen. For instance, I have no doubt that you would have pawned your ancestral jewellery to obtain the Australian citizenship, had the Aussie Government demanded for USS 5000 at the time. That is only because you had a ‘dying’ need to get it. Same goes to Sri Lanka too. So, take it or leave it. it’s your show. No offence intended.
    PS: In case you wondered; I gave-up my Sri Lankan citizenship 20 years ago and at present I cannot spare USS 500! Yet, I think, USS 5000 is a reasonable price to pay and I will do so ‘by hook or by crook’ since I am hungry for it.

  • 1
    0

    Sri Lankan’s domiciled abroad should petition their respective governments in those countries they reside to equally impose a very high visa fees, tariff, taxes, administrative fees from every Sri Lankan politician and diplomat that sets foot into these countries in reciprocity of this high charge. This should teach our SHYLOCK’s a bitter lesson.

  • 0
    0

    I am so happy that it has been raised to $5000 per individual.

    Sorry about the new arrivals.

    But for I feel sorry for those in Australia who took up Aussie citizenship without taking Dual when it was Rs 200,000 for main applicant and Rs 50,000 for other family members .

    In Australia until 2002 there was a rule if an Australian obtains a foreign citizenship they will lose the Aussie citizenship.
    However if you already obtained approval to continue to be a SL citizen then you can obtain Aussie citizenship. But you cannot take up another citizenship after you become naturalised in Australia..

    All Sri Lankans in Australia lined up to get Aussie citizenship after 2002 assuming they can take SL for granted. But MR put a stop and all SL who didn’t bother were very upset.

    Now Ravi Karu… has increased it to a months wages in Australia and everyone has become SL patriots and want to contribute to SL etc and whinging they cannot afford. Bull Crap.

    PS: on a personal note I obtained Dual for myself and three other members of my family in early 2000 for Rs 175,000.
    This is why they say ” Apayata giyath kalin yana ona”

    • 1
      1

      Do not be jealously, Mr. Parana Pinak. You are earning demerit points of thinking like this.[Edited out] Go to Buddhist temple and meditate Mr.Parana Pinak.

  • 3
    1

    Only expats will and can understand Lional. Every expat has injected and done more for SL than some of the locals. The amount of charities they set up, the donations made to the sick, the care they provide for family and friends amounts to thousands of dollars over the years of each ex pats stay overseas. I will not even mention the know how they inject because that is unquantifiable. Then when they visit on holidays they spend their money on themselves and most of all their family and friends. Local Sri Lankans are famous for approaching expats with their begging bowls and more often than not these bowls too are filled to the brim by tgese ex pats.

    Therefore each migrant has paid back many folds for the somewhat useless free education they received in that country.

    There is something called a birth right. Charging people who were born in the country to come back is akin to a puch below the belt.

    Our people are money hungry and are not long term thinkers.

  • 2
    2

    Well said Dr. Bopage. If Sri Lankan government decide to grant Dual Citizenship free of charge, Sri Lankan economy gains more than charging $ 5000 per person. Charging $ 5000 will discourage expats to apply for dual citizenship and this will jeopardy the government plan to earn more money from expats. [Edited out]

  • 1
    0

    Dr. Bopage received his education in the island nation and had a well paid job in Australia because of his education from Sri Lanka. He recently retired and I am sure he is getting a very good Australian Government Employee Pension. He might have got a fair bit of lump sum payments may be more than two hundred thousand dollars when he retired and his pension could be around forty thousand dollars. So five thousand dollars is peanuts for this gentleman. The cost of producing an Engineer in Sri Lanka is more than fifty thousand dollars in Sri Lanka.

    liberation for the poor!1

Leave A Comment

Comments should not exceed 200 words. Embedding external links and writing in capital letters are discouraged. Commenting is automatically disabled after 7 days and approval may take up to 24 hours. Please read our Comments Policy for further details. Your email address will not be published.