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CoPF summons officials over VFS Global Visa deal amid criticism

May 09, Colombo (LNW): The Parliamentary Committee on Public Finance (CoPF) has summoned the Secretary to the Ministry of Public Security and the Controller General of Immigration and Emigration to address concerns regarding the VFS Global deal associated with the new visa issuance process.

The move comes amidst widespread criticism of the arrangement, in what most advocates for the opposition called an ongoing ‘monopoly’ in the visa issuance process in Sri Lanka.

MP Harsha de Silva, Chairman of CoPF, emphasised that the two officials are scheduled to appear before the Committee today (09) to facilitate a comprehensive inquiry into the ongoing visa controversy.

He highlighted the irregularity of bypassing CoPF in matters related to public finance legislation.

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 allegedly imposed by Indian companies overseeing visa processing at Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) in Katunayake.

In response to the incident and subsequent allegations, the Indian High Commission dismissed claims of Indian companies assuming control of visa issuance at the BIA Airport, denouncing any association with such assertions.

Meanwhile, Public Security Minister Tiran Alles, who is responsible for overseeing the visa process, acknowledged in Parliament this week that the decision to engage VFS Global for visa processing was made with Cabinet approval and did not undergo parliamentary scrutiny.

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