Has the Northern Province, which accounts for a major chunk of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora, run out of its “stock of exportable manpower”? It appears so, if one were to take a cursory look at the recently-released report of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) on economic and social statistics-2016.
Out of the 2.63 lakh people who left Sri Lanka in 2015 for foreign employment, the North’s share was a mere 3.4 per cent with 8,945 persons. It was marginally ahead of the Uva province, which was at the bottom in the list of nine provinces. However, the Eastern Province, where the country’s three major ethnic communities—Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims—constitute around 33 per cent each, was placed at the second slot. It was next to the Western Province. The East’s share of people seeking foreign jobs was about 17.4 per cent (46,832 persons) and that of the West, 27.3 per cent (71,948 persons).
The subject of migration for foreign employment is of critical importance to Sri Lanka as migrant workers’ remittances ($ 6.9 billion) constitute two-thirds of export earnings of the country.
Answering the question regarding the North, Indrajit Coomaraswamy, Governor of the CBSL, told The Hindu on Saturday that “it is partially true [that the number of migrant workers is less]. But, in the North, there is still a desire to move out of the country on a permanent basis, and not so much for temporary employment.”
As per the CBSL report, the North had, in 2011, about 6,400 persons going abroad for jobs while, in 2014, the number went up to 12,620. (The Hindu)