CBSL calls for a social security system for migrant workers
By Mario Andree
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) says that it is vital to establish an appropriate social security system to support migrant workers, who have lost their jobs and had returned to the country.
The domestic labour market too is under sever distress due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and appropriate measures must be introduced to facilitate re-employment of migrant workers who were repatriated due to job losses, the bank said.
Further, it is important to also support those who missed the anticipated foreign employment opportunities due to the halt on departures to foreign destinations, It said.
Therefore, the establishment of appropriate social security measures are imperative to face future distresses in the international labour market, the bank said.
The Central bank also suggested finding alternative destinations for migrant workers to obtain employment.
As reported in Friday’s Ceylon FT, Sri Lanka has witnessed a considerable loss of employment and the unemployment rate has increased to a 11-year high.
The country in 2020 witnessed a 5.5 per cent unemployment rate, the highest recorded since the dawn of peace in 2009.
Departures of migrant workers too weakened in 2020 due to the pandemic engulfing the every economy across the globe and the challenges are yet to be overcome as new variants of the virus emerge challenging the recovery efforts.
Departures for foreign employment declined 73.6 per cent to 53,713 in 2020, from 203,087 in 2019, with the spread of COVID-19 pandemic.
Though there are some job opportunities opening in international markets, those are insufficient to cater to the demand as many migrant workers from other destinations too are seeking for opportunities and consider lower pay to seize the opportunity.
Migrant workers have been a major pillar of strength to the Sri Lankan economy, as they are recorded to be the largest foreign exchange earners for the country.
During the first three months of this year, worker remittance improved 16.7 per cent to US$ 1.87 billion from Rs 1.6 billion recorded a year earlier.
In 2o2o, Sri Lanka saw its worker remittances increase 5.8 per cent to US$ 7.1 billion from Rs 6.7 billion recorded in 2019.
The Mahinda Rajapaksa regime during its second term planned for a social security scheme for migrant workers who completed ten years of employment, however, the programme was never launched due to various reasons.