By:Staff WriterColombo (LNW): Workers’ remittance inflows continued their strong run in April as well with migrant Sri Lankan workers sending over US$ 450 million to their families who are undergoing difficult times. Accordingly, the remittances for the month of April 2023 was recorded as US$ 454 million.
Worker remittances sent by Sri Lankan expatriates jumped to a new high of over 83 percent in April, as more workers channeled their foreign earnings through formal banking channels, central bank data showed.
Taking to Twitter, Minister of Labour and Foreign employment Manusha Nanayakkara said that it’s an 83.4 percent increase compared to April 2022, where the remittances figures were recorded as US$ 248.9 million.
The remittances, the top foreign exchange earner, recorded $437.5 million in the first month of 2023 compared to $259.2 million in January last year, the central bank data showed. .Further, the Minister stated that total remittance for this year stands at US$ 1867.2 million.
The remittances fell sharply from October 2021 as most workers sought to send money via unofficial hawala and undiyal methods after the central bank clamped down on paying higher premiums for Vostro trassfer as the rupee came under pressure from money printed to keep an artificial interest rate.
Even after the currency was allowed to depreciate sharply from 200 rupees per dollar to 360, worker remittances were down, as credit pressure continued.
The inflows fell 31 percent last year to $3.8 billion from the previous year’s $5.5 billion, the latest central bank data showed.
Though a record 311,269 people left the country as migrant workers last year in the face of an unprecedented economic crisis, the worker remittances were not found to rise proportion to the outward labour movement.
Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Labour and Foreign Employment has launched a new mobile app from May 1 to facilitate foreign remittances with an aim to boost foreign inflows from migrants.
The new app ‘Lanka Remit’ will see some duty concessions at the main airport for Sri Lankan migrant workers as incentives.
“This relief is implemented under five categories and workers who have sent an amount between $2,400 and 4,799 dollars can get an additional duty relief of 600 dollars,” Manusha Nanayakkara, the Foreign Employment Minister told a media briefing.
Workers remitted between $4,800 and $7,199 will receive an additional duty relief of $960, while between $7,200 and $11,999 receive an additional duty relief of $1,440.
Workers who remit between $12,000 and $23,999 are eligible for an additional $2,400 duty waiver while those who remit $24,000 or more are eligible for an additional $4,800 duty concession.
“Anyone who has sent the relevant money to the country within a period of one year can avail this relief,” Nanayakkara said.
The Minister said the move was part of the government’s goal to boost the monthly remittances to $1 billion.