Sunday, July 4, 2010

Remittances top forex earnings

Rasika Somarathna

*Expatriate workers sent US $ 3.3 b in 2009

*2,300 new agreements for South Korean jobs

*Rise in Lankans seeking foreign jobs

Remittances from Sri Lankan expatriate workers are expected to exceed US $ 4 billion this year making them the country’s number one foreign exchange earner. Authorities said if the current trends are to go by where the remittances received amounted to US $ 890 million during the first quarter of 2010 (growth of 14 per cent from last year) the target of US $ 04 billion at the year end, would be easily surpassed.

According to Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Chief (SLBFE) Kingsley Ranawaka the number of Sri Lankans leaving abroad for employment has seen a significant increase since last year and with new vistas in the horizon the numbers could go higher before the year end.

During the first quarter of 2010, 67,136 had migrated for jobs and during the same period in 2009 only 54,990 had left for employment.

In addition to the numbers, the wage increases to certain categories of workers in accordance with a Government request, emphasis on skilled categories, better training, awareness on improved financial management, enhanced protocol on job agreements\salaries are also seen as reasons behind the increase in remittances.

Less dependency on traditional Middle Eastern markets and the growth in emerging and more lucrative destinations such as South Korea has had its say in increasing revenue.

Ranawaka said that 2,300 new agreements had been signed for employment opportunities in South Korea and more were to follow during the course of the year.

Sri Lankan expatriate workers sent home US $ 3.3 billion in 2009 and the remittances in 2008 was US $ 2.9 billion.

There are more than 1.8 million Sri Lankan expatriate workers at present.

International labour migration from Sri Lanka has grown remarkably over the last decades, with numbers increasing more than tenfold, according to the Central Bank, Annual Report.

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