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Tourism Minister expresses displeasure over Cabinet decision, dismisses letter circulating on Social Media as fake

May 07, Colombo (LNW): Tourism Minister Harin Fernando raised concerns over the new visa process during yesterday’s (06) cabinet meeting, chaired by President Ranil Wickramasinghe, expressing his readiness to resign from his ministry if the system remains unchanged.

Minister Fernando voiced dissatisfaction with the $18.5 service fee imposed by VFS Global and advocated for an all-inclusive 30-day single-entry visa priced at $50 until the Government finalises plans for free visas for over 50 countries.

Following deliberations among Cabinet Ministers and relevant officials, it was decided to issue a 30-day single-entry visa, inclusive of all charges, at a flat rate of $50.

Reports indicate that VFS Global has consented to the revised proposal for the single-entry visa, although details regarding the breakdown of the $50 fee remain unconfirmed.

Commencing May 7th, a 30-day single-entry visa without additional charges will be available for $50 until our proposal for free visas for more than 50 countries is finalised. Until then, seven countries will continue to enjoy free visas as before, Minister Harin Fernando announced on X.

Addressing concerns raised by Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa regarding the initial VFS proposal, Minister Fernando clarified that he had objected to the proposal upon learning of the undisclosed VFS charges.

“It’s not surprising that the Opposition Leader wants to pin this on me rather than on the line ministry, which implemented this system while we were finalising the proposal for free visas for over 50 countries,” Fernando wrote.

Responding to a circulating letter on social media purportedly detailing his resignation, Fernando dismissed it as false, affirming that despite his reservations about the Cabinet decision, he did not submit a resignation letter.

“Letter circulating isn’t true even though I mentioned my intentions in cabinet, of not wanting to be apart of the decision to increase any visa fees. Date of the letter is also one month ago,” Fernando asserted.

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