Interview with the Consul General of Sri Lanka in Milan Pradeepa Priyanganie Saram

tmadawela | 29 Jan, 2017 06:20PM | Leave a comment
Written by Michele Lann - 'IL Console' Web Portal in Milan.

When did you arrive in Italy, and what problems and / or difficulties has he dealt with the appointment as Consul?

To foster bilateral relations with Italy and serve the large Sri Lankan community, the Government of Sri Lanka established its Consulate General in Milan. I arrived Milan in September 2015 and opened the Consulate for public on 01st February 2016. I am honoured to be the first Sri Lankan Consul General in Milan, the financial and economic capital of Italy. The biggest challenge was to find a suitable property/ building as the Chancery of the Consulate. It is not an easy task to establish a DPL entity first time in a city or Country.

How many Sri Lankans are in Italy and what are the characteristics of the immigrant community in Italy (sex, age, type of work)?

Over one hundred thousand Sri Lankans are in Italy and approximately 50,000 are residing in Northern Italy. As per statistics of ISTAT 2016, majority of Sri Lankans (54.8%) are employed in the domestic sector while considerable numbers are also engaged in hotels & restaurants, trade & business, building and Industry, real estate activities, transport and storage sector etc. The male numbers are higher than female.

How are relations between Sri Lankan community and Italians?

The Sri Lankan community is one of the largest community in Milan and the relations between Sri Lankans and the Italians are excellent. Generally, Sri Lankans have well integrated with the Italians and its society actively while contributing to country' economy and workforce. Further, Sri Lankans have a proven record for their hard working and reliability.

What are the greatest needs and difficulties of the Sri Lankan community and what the demands formulated to your Consulate?

A Consulate in Milan was a long felt need for our community. The setting up of a Consulate General office now provides expatriate members of the Sri Lankan community with much needed assistances and services. Consular requests received from our community are wide-ranging. Applying for new passports & emergency passports, applying for police clearance certificates, issuing consular declarations, amendments, additions to passports, accepting dual citizenship applications, authentication of documents and registration of births of Sri Lankan children born in Italy can be considered as regular consular requests. In addition to above, repatriation of human remains, registration of death and marriages, liaising with Italian local entities regarding matters related to Sri Lankans are also key tasks.

What can you do to help, even more, the inclusion of Sri Lankans in Italy?

Integration of Sri Lankans to Italy and its society is pivotal in obtaining more and more job opportunities. In that aspect, the language is a must and the Consulate encourages the community to learn Italian language which is the prime mode of conversation with the host country people. Further, there is a need for trained people in the domestic sector. Sri Lanka is a multi- cultural, multi-religious country, hence, Sri Lankans have integrated to the Italian society very well.

What are the relations of the Consulate with Italian institutions?

The Consulate maintains very close and cordial contacts with the Italian institutions which is mutually beneficial to both Countries. Consulate is in good rapport with the Municipality of Milan, Mayors' office, Carabinieri, Local Police, Milan Chamber of Commerce, Italian Association of Foreign Trade (AICE), etc.

What can you do to improve the economic and trade relations between your country and Italy?

Italy and Sri Lanka have been traditional partners for centuries and there are 08 major Italian Companies that operate under Board of Investment (BOI) focusing on garment manufacturing, footwear, rubber based products, coir and horticulture. Consulate is focusing on the expansion of economic interaction, cultural exchanges, promotion of tourism and people-to -people contacts between the two countries. In this regard, the Consulate is exploring possibilities of exchanging of business/ investment delegations between the two countries, participation of trade and travel exhibitions, briefings on investment opportunities available in Sri Lanka etc.