On-Arrival Visa Saga: Outspoken Man Summoned by Police — Allegations of Data Fraud Against Foreign Entity

At the conclusion of the agreement, the foreign company is anticipated to generate a minimum of $841 million in revenue.

1 min read
Sandaru Kumarasinghe [File Photo]

Pubudu Jagoda, the Education Secretary of the Front Line Socialist Party, has accused VFS GLOBAL, the company overseeing Katunayake visa operations, of data fraud. In a recent press conference, he voiced concerns about the government’s decision to grant authority to an Indian-origin company for issuing on-arrival visas to tourists visiting Sri Lanka.

Mr. Jagoda condemned the decision, labeling it as “utterly reckless” and warning of dire social consequences that could haunt the country for generations. He highlighted the dangers posed to tourists and national security, alleging that the project was awarded to the Indian company without a proper tender process.

Meanwhile, Sandaru Kumarasinghe, a vocal critic of the transfer of visa facilities to a foreign entity, was summoned by the police for questioning. He had spoken against this arrangement at the airport when his wife’s visa was refused by the foreign entity, and the video of his speech went viral on social media. Undeterred, Mr. Kumarasinghe addressed the media, reaffirming his stance against injustice and asserting his right to speak up against the exploitation of national assets. Despite accusations of intending harm to Sri Lanka, he emphasized his commitment to advocating for fairness and accountability.

Sandaru Kumarasinghe

The controversy escalated further as Mr. Kumarasinghe was instructed to appear at the Katunayake Airport Police station on May 6 at 10 am, coinciding with a press conference called by the Minister responsible for public security. During the conference, the Minister announced forthcoming legal action against both the youth who voiced concerns at the airport and the officials who documented the incident. Mr. Kumarasinghe engaged in a lengthy discussion, lasting approximately one hour and 45 minutes, before departing following an apparently amicable exchange of views.

Meanwhile, “the police have initiated inquiries, obtaining statements from airport personnel present during the incident, further deepening the controversy surrounding the Katunayake visa saga and the crackdown on dissenting voices,” a source at the airport said.

Following the signing of the agreement between the Comptroller General of Immigration and Emigration of Sri Lanka and the Foreign Operator, the online visa process commenced on April 17, 2024. But, part of issuing on-arrival visas has been temporarily suspended.

A report submitted by these institutions to TVD Damayanthi S. Karunaratne, Chairman of the Additional Licensing and Evaluation Committee of the Ministry of Public Security, dated October 23, 2023, states that the number of tourists visiting Sri Lanka will grow to 5.4 million by 2035. If so many tourists come to Sri Lanka, the revenue they will receive in 2035 (related only to the $18.50 charged for the visa issuance service) is $100 million.

If the number of tourists they expect to come to Sri Lanka in the next ten years, when the contract expires, the company will earn 841 million US dollars for the visa-issuing service alone. With the convenience fee increases and additional revenue streams, the overall income for the organization could be substantially higher.

Sri Lanka Guardian

The Sri Lanka Guardian is an online web portal founded in August 2007 by a group of concerned Sri Lankan citizens including journalists, activists, academics and retired civil servants. We are independent and non-profit. Email: editor@slguardian.org

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Latest from Blog