Sri Lanka worker remittances getting diversified: CB Governor

ECONOMYNEXT – Growing migrant worker remittances from countries like Australia and from Eastern Europe could compensate for the fall in remittances from the Middle East, hit by the slump in oil prices, central bank governor Arjuna Mahendran said.

The central bank said worker remittances, which help shore up the balance of payments, fell 0.5 percent to 6.9 billion US dollars in 2015 from the year before when it had grown by 10 percent.

“Even in the worst of times, in the last 25 years we’ve never seen a dip in our remittances except when Iraq invaded Kuwait,” Mahendran told  a news conference.

“When oil prices were at 18 dollars a barrel in 2012 we still saw growth in remittances.”

Mahendran said he was optimistic remittances would remain around seven billion dollars this year and not fall further although Middle East countries had reduced hiring as construction growth slowed down in the region.

“Growing remittances from Australia and eastern Europe can compensate for the fall in remittances from the Middle East,” he said.

“Now we have big communities across Europe, Australia and Canada. We are no longer dependent on the Middle East.”

“I’m optimistic this year we’ll get another seven billion dollars (in remittances) if oil prices stabilise and do not drop further. But if they drop further we have to be worried.”

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