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Thursday June 1st, 2023

Sri Lanka gets Malaysian nod for 10,000 security guard jobs

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)

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Sri Lanka exports down in April, trade deficit up from March, rupee stronger

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s exports fell 12.6 percent from a year ago to 849 million US dollars in April 2023, amid weaker external demand, while imports were down 15.8 percent to 1,431 million Us dollars, central bank data showed.

Exports also fell 1,037 million dollars in March 2023, amid seasonal effects.

The trade deficit expanded to 583 million US dollars in April from 412 million US dollars in March 2023. Imports were at 1431 million US dollars in April from 1,450 million dollars in March.

Imports can pick as tourism, worker remittances and net inflows to government go up.

The rupee continued to appreciate.

“Exchange rate showed a notable appreciation during April 2023 with the continued improvement in liquidity in the domestic foreign exchange market, the discontinuation of the daily guidance on exchange rates,” the central bank said.

Up to April exports were down 9 percent to 3.8 billion rupees and imports were down 28 percent to 5.2 billion rupees and the trade deficit was 1.4 billion rupees.

Investment goods imports were down in April amid a contraction in credit.

“Almost all types of goods listed under the three main investment good categories, namely machinery and equipment, building material and transport equipment, recorded a decline,” the central bank said.

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Sri Lanka President discusses debt restructure, program progress with IMF

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s President Ranil Wickremesinghe has discussed progress of International Monetary Fund program and debt restructuring during a visit of Deputy Managing Director Kenji Okamura, statement said.

“The discussion primarily focused on the progress of the IMF program between Sri Lanka and the IMF,” a statement from President’s office said.

“Attention was also paid to the on-going debt restructuring negotiations.”

State Minister of Finance Shehan Semasinghe, Senior Advisor to the President on National Security and Chief of Presidential Staff Sagala Ratnayake was also in the meeting.

Secretary of the Ministry of Finance Mahinda Siriwardena, Central Bank Governor Nandalal Weerasinghe, Deputy Director of the International Monetary Fund Anne Marie Gulde, and Resident Representative IMF in Sri Lanka Sarwat Jahan, attended this event. (Colombo/June01/2023)

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Sri Lanka cuts petrol to Rs318 a litre, kerosene to Rs245

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka has cut petrol 92-Octane by 15 rupees to 318 rupees a litre and kerosene by 50 rupees to 245 rupees a litre from midnight May 31, the Ministry of Energy said.

Petrol 95 Octane will be raised by 20 rupees to 385 rupees, and Lanka Super Diesel 4 Star Euro 4 will be raised by 10 rupees to 340 rupees a litre.

Lanka Industrial Kerosene will be cut by 60 rupees a litre to 270 rupees.

Kerosene which is similar to jet fuel is usually the most expensive fuel in international markets followed by diesel and petrol is usually the cheapest.

Kerosene which is substantially cheaper than diesel is also used by buses to cut costs. (Colombo/May31/2023)

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