Numbers fall by 149,374
By Paneetha Ameresekere
Departures for foreign employment declined sharply by 73.6 per cent to 53,713 in 2020, from 203,087 in 2019 with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, a fall of 149,374; Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s 2020 Annual Report released on Friday (30 April) stated.
This sharp decline was attributable to the temporary ban imposed by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) on departures of migrant workers registered with them, travel restrictions at labour receiving countries, suspension of recruitment of foreign workers and reduced demand for migrant labour, it said. Both male and female departures for foreign employment declined by 73.5 per cent and 73.7 per cent, respectively, in 2020 compared to 2019.
In line with the decline in total departures for foreign employment, departures for foreign employment under all skill categories, namely, professional, middle level, clerical and related, skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled and housemaid, declined drastically in 2020 compared to the previous year. Meanwhile, the Middle East region continued to remain the main foreign employment destination in 2020 as well, accounting for 82.0 per cent of the total departures for foreign employment. However, departures for foreign employment to the Middle East region declined by 74.5 per cent, compared to 2019, CBSL said.