ECONOMYNEXT – Migrant worker departures from Sri Lanka have fallen marginally but women going abroad as housemaids have seen double-digit growth in 2018, data released by the state foreign employment bureau shows.
Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment said 211,502 persons left for work abroad in 2018 against 211,992 a year earlier, and female workers had fallen to 66,971 from 68,319.
But official departures as housemaids have risen to 64,965 in 2018 from 55,884 a year earlier.
It is not clear why there was a spike in housemaid departures, but there were fears in recent years about restrictions being brought by the state including family certificates, which may have forced women to go abroad without officially registering.
Sri Lanka generally has seen tightening labour markets especially for males, while female unemployment is higher.
Restrictions in Sri Lanka’s Shop and Office Act, intended to protect women, may also be discouraging female employment according to some critics.
Departures to Qatar, which has seen policial unrest had fallen 10 percent to 50,776.
The Foreign Employment Bureau said there were higher number of departures to countries in Europe and Japan.
Some Sri Lankans also work illegally in countries by jumping visa or entering those countries through unorthodox methods.
The central bank said official worker remittances fell 0.9 percent to 6,431 million US dollars up to November 2018. (COLOMBO, 09 January 2019)