Sri Lanka migrant worker outflow fell in 2015: Central Bank

ECONOMYNEXT – The number of Sri Lankans going abroad in search of work fell sharply in 2015 with remittances, a key source of foreign exchange earnings, also falling and likely to decline further, the Central Bank said.

The decline was a result of lower oil prices and political problems in the Middle East, the bank said in its annual report for 2015.

“A sharp decline of 12.4 percent was observed in the total number of departures for foreign employment,” the report said.

It said this could be partly attributed to escalated geo-political tensions and the slowdown of economic activity in the Middle East.

“This had an impact on the unemployment rate, as well as the labourforce participation rate,” the report said.

The island’s unemployment rate increased to 4.6 percent during 2015, compared to 4.3 percent in 2014, amid a marginal increase in labourforce participation, particularly by females.

Workers’ remittances fell 0.5 percent in 2015, compared to growth of 9.5 percent in 2014.

“This decline can be largely attributed to the fall in incomes of oil exporting countries in the Middle East due to the low level of international oil prices and the decline in migration under the semi-skilled and unskilled categories, including housemaids.”

The slump in oil prices and stagnating growth in Middle Eastern countries “is expected to continue to impact remittances and future job prospects of Sri Lankan migrant workers”, the Central Bank warned.

Workers’ remittances are also expected to slow down, given the increased availability of domestic employment opportunities and policy measures to discourage migration in the semi-skilled and unskilled categories.
(Colombo/May 02 2016)

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