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Sri Lanka remittances down 23-pct in May but up from April

ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s foreign remittances fell 23.3 percent from a year earlier to 431.8 million US dollars in May 2020 but has picked up from a low of 375 million US dollars in April amid a Coronavirus pandemic, official data shows.

Sri Lanka was under strict lockdowns in April with banks only operating a few hours and postal services also not operating.

Expatriate family members in the Middle East and elsewhere send money either through bank drafts over the post or through a transfer which may cost more.

Sri Lanka’s official remittances which were trending down in 2019 started to pick up from December.

In January 2020 remittances grew 6.5 percent to 580.9 million US dollars. In February remittances were up 5.4 percent to 527 million US dollars.

Many Sri Lankans whose contracts had expired were unable to come to Sri Lanka after inward arrivals were banned from all countries after March 19.

Since then Sri Lankans are being brought back according to the availability of quarantine facilities.

“We believe that around 1.3 million Sri Lankans or more may be working abroad,” Information Minister Bandula Gunewardene said.

“For many reasons, only a relatively small number has indicated that they want to come back.

Of that 52,401 from 117 countries had informed Sri Lankan missions abroad that the wanted to come back by June 16, he said

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“We have brought back about 10,000 persons so far.”

Based on Foreign Ministry data by the third week of June 9,580 persons have been brought back from 38 countries.

Foreign missions were also distributing dry rations to persons who had lost jobs, he said. (Colombo/June30/2020-sb)

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