ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka .
Mar 24, Colombo : Sri Lankan expatriate workers sent home US $ 3.3 billion in 2009 making the remittances the nation's main foreign exchange earner.
This was disclosed by the secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Employment Promotion Sunil S. Sirisena when he addressed the meeting following the opening of the first Provincial office of the Foreign Employment Bureau in Vavuniya.
This is a sharp increase from the figure of remittances of US $ 2.9 billion in 2008.
The secretary said that there are 1.8 million Sri Lankan expatriate workers presently. International labor migration from Sri Lanka has grown remarkably over the last decades, with numbers increasing more than tenfold, according to the Central Bank, Annual Report 2008.
Annual outflow of workers is about 250,000 people. In 2007, the equivalent of 23% of total employment generated and 21% of Sri Lanka 's labor force was made up by foreign employment.
Migrant remittances are a mainstay of the Lankan economy, accounting for about 7% of GDP and 36% of export earnings.