- Says must enter into bilateral agreements with other advanced economies
- Singapore, Japan and European countries some key nations to consider
- Acknowledges upskilling of migrant workers beneficial to tap opportunities with higher and stable earnings
- Calls for increased focus on remittance management
By Shabiya Ali Ahlam
The Central Bank has stressed that it is imperative to explore new markets for Sri Lankan migrant workers since the importance of remittance inflows as a non-debt creating source of foreign exchange has increased in the face of the pandemic.
“There is a dire necessity to find alternative destinations for migrant workers rather than relying upon the Middle Eastern region, which is often subjected to economic crises driven by the swings in oil prices and geopolitical tensions,” the CB said in its recently launched 2020 annual report.
It stressed that exploring new labour markets and entering into bilateral agreements with other advanced economies, are imperative to reduce the exposure of Sri Lankan foreign remittances being sourced largely from one single region.
Some of the key nations Sri Lanka should look to deepen its ties in this regard are Singapore, Japan and European countries.
According to the monetary authority, progressive upskilling of migrant workers through investments in competency development through vocational training by providing high-quality training on par with international standards, is beneficial in securing employment opportunities with higher and stable earnings.
It pointed out that attention should also be drawn to improving the language proficiency, financial literacy and cultural preparation of migrant employees at the pre-departure training programmes.
Furthermore, raising the awareness of the family members of migrant employees in Sri Lanka on remittance management was listed among the imperatives to ensure the proper utilisation of remittances for the betterment of the households.
The CBSL asserted that continuous monitoring systems and other measures to support families left behind, such as childcare and education support for children, are also required at grass root level.
It noted that with the support of the other relevant authorities, the regional offices of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment could help establish a continuous monitoring programme and provide counselling services for the family members of migrant employees.
According to the CB, the economic crisis that originated from the pandemic has exposed significant data gaps that restricted real-time monitoring of remittance flows as well as movements of migrants.
The gaps have led to the pressing need of having to improve the data collection systems on remittances, it said.