Sri Lanka manpower exporters battle downturn

May 26, 2009 (LBO) – Sri Lankans working abroad send home nearly three billion dollars a year, and despite a global economic meltdown and stiff competition from regional neighbors, industry officials say they are fighting the downturn. Around 1.8 million people are estimated to be employed abroad, according to Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau data quoted by the Central Bank. This is equal to about 20 percent of the island’s domestic labour force.

Last year foreign remittances were 2.9 billion dollars, up 16.6 percent from 2007, coming second after the apparel industry – where earnings topped three billion dollars last year.

But it the three months to March 2009 foreign remittances were down 1.7 percent to 773.6 million US dollars. In the first quarter of 2008 remittances grew 23.5 percent.

Slowdown

Many foreign employers are reducing their work force as a result of the downturn.

“It has tremendously affected us because once the crisis showing world sites over the period of time slowly we started witnessing the slow down in the requirements itself,” says P S Selvaratnam, managing director of Selco Manpower Recruitment agency.

“Those days we used to receive 200 requirements per month and it has