By: Staff writer
Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is set to maintain US $1 billion monthly foreign inflow from worker remittance by end-2023 with more people leaving the country for foreign employment after current man made economic crisis, Foreign Employment and Labour Minister Manusha Nanayakkara disclosed.
Worker’s remittances have fallen 40.2 percent to $2.9 billion in the first 10 months of last year mainly as most Sri Lankan expatriate workers sought informal methods like Undiyal or Hawala to send the money due to higher exchange rate than that offered by the formal banking system in Sri Lanka.
Minister Nanayakkara has launched several incentives to encourage Sri Lankan workers in foreign countries to send their money through the formal system and the island nation has witnessed a reversal in year-on-year fall in monthly remittances for the first time in September 2022.
Sri Lanka has recorded high foreign remittances of $7.4 billion in 2020 and analysts believe the minister’s $1 billion monthly target is “highly ambitious” unless the central bank floats the currency and reduces the gap between the formal and informal market exchange rates.
The government has taken some steps including high duty-free allowance, pension benefits, and vehicle imports to boost foreign remittances.
It has also focused on sending skilled labourers for foreign employment, instead of unskilled, the Minister said.
A record 273,988 Sri Lankans have left the country for foreign jobs as of November 14 this year, compared to 203,087 outward labour migration in 2019
Sri Lankan migrant workers’ foreign remittances amounted to a total of USD 844.9 million in the first two months of 2023, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) announced.
According to a latest report published by the central bank, this is an increase of 82% in comparison to the total sum of USD 464.1 million foreign remittances recorded in both January and February last year.
The central bank’s figures have shown that the foreign remittances earned by Sri Lankan migrant workers’ were at USD 437.5 million and USD 407.4 million in January and February 2023, respectively.
Meanwhile, foreign remittances received in December 2022 alone amounted to USD 475.6 million, recording the highest figure reported in a single month since June 2021
Workers’ remittances in February had doubled to $ 407.4 million from a year ago but have suffered a second consecutive Month-on-Month dip.
After peaking to $ 476 million in December last year, workers’ remittances have declined to $ 438 million in January this year and $ 407 million in February. In February last year, workers’ remittances amounted to $ 205 million.
In the first two months of this year, workers’ remittances amounted to $ 845 million, up 82% from $ 464 million in the corresponding period of 2022.
Workers’ remittances in 2022 declined by 31% to $ 3.8 billion from 2021, though a notable recovery was witnessed during the latter part of 2022.
Total departures for foreign employment in 2022 were recorded at 300,000 contributed mainly by the unskilled (101,786), skilled (88,215) and domestic aid (73,781) categories.
In January this year, total departures were 24,236 comprising unskilled (7,556), skilled (7,283) and domestic aid (6,120) categories.