Workers’ remittances, the largest foreign income source to the dollar-hungry Sri Lanka, has taken a dive during the first three months, as the total remittances have declined by 3.3 percent followed by a 12.2 percent decline in March 2017, according to Central Bank data.
In March, the country received of US$ 593.4 million in workers’ remittances while for the first three months the cumulative figure stood at US$ 1.73 billion.
Professionals leaving Sri Lanka for greener pastures don’t help Sri Lanka’s external woes much, as they tend to keep their monies aboard. What helps the country are the moneys sent back by the unskilled and semi-skilled category workers.
There are close to two million Sri Lankans working abroad.
In 2016, worker remittances rose by 3.7 percent to US$ 7.24 billion after losing momentum in 2015 due to tougher fiscal conditions in Gulf countries in response to the fall in global oil prices.
Workers’ remittances and tourism inflows, together account for about US$ 11 billion and cushion the current account and the balance of payment to a greater extent. But these inflows are being swallowed up by the country’s ever expanding trade account.
For the first four months of this year, tourism earnings rose by 6.1 percent to US $ 1.31 billion while the earnings for April is estimated to have been US $ 275 million.