Greener Pastures

Oct 30, 2007 (LBO) – Sri Lanka should encourage more workers to seek employment abroad as worker remittances will immensely help economic development while reducing the government’s burden of creating job opportunities, UN officials say. Despite two decades war Sri Lanka has been able to sustain better growth and development as a result of increasing worker remittances, Omar Noman, chief of policy changes and macro economic development at UN Development Program, says.

“Each migrant is supporting five to six people at home. In the absence of migration, the situation will be much bleaker in Sri Lanka,” Noman told LBO.

“Because you (the government) then have to provide employment and the economy is not generating that kind of employment.”

The second highest foreign exchange earner after apparel exports, worker remittances to the island have grown 17 percent to 194 billion rupees during the first eight months of the year, compared to the same period last year.

But the number of persons who seek employment abroad decreased by 14.4 percent to 201,000 last year, despite the increase in remittances.

Persons from lower and middle income families tend to go abroad seeking better pay with Sri Lanka’s inflation run