ECONOMYNEXT- Forex trapped Sri Lanka is planning to send 10,000 individuals to Malaysia for security guard jobs in hope of boosting foreign remittances and opening new markets for migrant workers, A Foreign Employment Ministry source said.
Sri Lanka is facing an unprecedented economic crisis after it declared sovereign debt default in April last year following the island nation’s foreign currency reserves fell sharply to near one-month of imports.
“Basically the Malaysian party has given the consent and the assurance to recruit Sri Lankans for this particular job,” an official from the Ministry of Foreign Employment told EconomyNext asking not to be named.
“Currently we haven’t sent anyone to Malaysia yet. But, we are looking for new markets and that’s how we managed to approach Malaysia.”
Accordingly, Sri Lanka Foreign Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE), the regulatory authority in the process, will oversee the recruitments, the official said.
The remittances, which is one of the country’s top foreign exchange earners, fell from December 2021 with most workers sought to send money via illegal Hawala and Undiyal methods in the face of the central bank kept the rupee propped up artificially.
More migrant workers resorted to illegal methods without sending forex through the formal banking channels as the central bank propped up rupee before they allowed the currency to collapse in March last year, which later aggravated the economic crisis before turning into a political crisis.
The remittances have improved since November 2022, and Sri Lanka’s official remittances almost doubled to 407.4 in February 2023 from a year ago, as credibility of an exchange rate peg improved after money printing was phased out, reducing parallel premiums.
Sri Lanka has reported 844.9 million US dollars of remittances through official channels during the first two months of the year, up 82 percent from 446.1 million dollars a year earlier.
“We are working towards achieving the target of earning one billion dollars as monthly foreign remittance” the official said.
The island nation saw a record number of migrant workers leaving the country last year after the crisis which led to deficiency of foreign currency to import necessities. (Colombo/March20/2023)