Minting Money

September 11, 2006 (LBO) — Sri Lanka’s Central Bank is spearheading a campaign to push up foreign exchange remittance from countrymen residing overseas, in an attempt to raise cash for development work. Using networks of the two state banks Bank of Ceylon and People’s Bank monetary authorities Monday launched an awareness campaign throwing incentives ranging from low interest housing loans to health insurance schemes to tempt migrant workers to use the formal banking system.

Nearly 1.5 million Sri Lankans working and residing overseas sent home 1,918 million dollars last year, and the Central Bank is hoping to double remittances to 3,000 million dollars by 2007.

“We estimate around 30-35 percent of remittances came through the formal banking channel last year, we hope these incentives schemes will encourage people to send more money home,” Central Bank governor Nivard Cabraal told journalists.

For the seven months to July, remittances rose by as much as 24 percent to 1,359 million dollars this year as against the same period last year, Cabraal said with most of the funds used to build houses.

“If we keep that momentum up, we can look to an average of 2,35