Despite the global economic meltdown foreign remittances have shown a significant increase and diversification.
Foreign remittances from countries such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Europe and North America recorded a higher growth during the year, a senior official of the Central Bank told Daily News Business.
He said that these remittances were mainly from expatriate Sri Lankans working in Middle East countries, which accounts for 60 percent of the total remittances, while 20 percent was remitted by Sri Lankan expatriates in Europe.
The other remittances were from North America and the Far East. This indicates a slight decline in remittances from Middle East countries, while there is a growth in the percentage from countries such as Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Europe and North America.
The Central Bank did not anticipate a higher growth in foreign exchange earnings during the year as many employees lost their jobs due to the global recession. Gross foreign remittances during the first nine months of the year were US$ 2,481.4 million, a growth of 10.3 percent compared to 2008.
The Central Bank targets US$ 3 billion in foreign exchange earnings this year and it is confident that they could achieve this goal, he said.
He said that there was a marginal growth in the unemployment rate having recorded six percent when compared to 5.2 percent in 2008, the lowest unemployment rate recorded in the country.
However, with the Northern and the Eastern provinces opening and the global economy recovering from the financial downturn, the country could expect improved economic activities, as it will generate more employment within the country and attract further foreign direct investments to the country.
According to the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) 229,356 workers took up employment abroad during the first eleven months of 2009 and of that number 106,166 were housemaids.
The total number of skilled workers who took up foreign employment accounted for 56,280 while there were 46,430 unskilled workers.