Posted on May 7th, 2014

Rasika Somarathna Courtesy The Daily News

An increase of US $5 b over 2013

Accent on skilled manpower, reason for the surge

Treasury Secretary Dr. P.B.Jayasundera predicted that considering the current growth trends, Sri Lanka migrant worker remittances will surge over US $12 billion by 2020, an increase of US $5 billion from the current US $7 billion.

Highlighting the importance of migrant worker remittances to the Sri Lankan economy, Dr.Jayasundera pointed out that remittances reached US $7 billion in 2013 when tourism brought in US $1.5 billion and Foreign Direct Investment US $1 billion for the same period.

Dr.Jayasundera said that Sri Lanka’s migrant worker contribution to the growth of the country’s economy has been increasing steadily over the years and the current figures show 800 workers leaving daily to work overseas.

He made these observations addressing the meeting of senior officials of the 11 nation organization “Colombo Process”, a dialogue platform for countries of origin of labour migrants in Asia, which concluded its two day sittings here yesterday.

Dr. Jayasundera attributed the surge in worker remittances to the thrust adopted by the Foriegn Employment Promotion and Welfare Ministry, to increase the migration of skilled manpower for better salaries and perks rather than focus on unskilled and female domestic workers.

He pointed out that while migration of females from Sri Lanka to work as domestic hands overseas dropped by 33 per cent during the last 10 years, the skilled and professional worker category had increased by 30 per cent in the same period. “The Ministry’s current focus on skilled workers will further improve this category of workers in the coming years with many initiatives in the pipeline to improve their capacity”, he predicted.

Also Dr.Jayasundera noted that returning migrant workers too play a crucial role in supplementing the economic growth of the country. “These workers bring in new skills, capital, technology and risk taking abilities which augur well for their future development” he added.

Dr.Jayasundera observed that an initiative mooted by the President in Budget – 2012 to grant assistance to returing workers to help start businesses were paying rich dividends today. The Treasury Secretary stressed that the country was not only looking at the monetary aspect when it came to its migrant workers but was paying equal attention to their personal development, safety, welfare, rights and wellbeing of workers’ families .

He pointed out that introducing a minimum age for female workers, preventing mothers with children below the age of 5 from migrating for employment, a comprehensive social security scheme and many such initiatives were correct steps in this direction. The ‘Colombo Process’ meeting is attended by representatives from 11 countries. In Sri Lanka, current figures show with over 1.7 million Sri Lankans working abroad, migrant workers constitute 17 percent of Sri Lanka’s working population.


  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    The migrant worker remittances to the Sri Lankan economy reached US $7 billion in 2013 while tourism brought only US $1.5 billion to the country, yet, I have observed very many occasions that the migrant workers are being treated undignified and discourteous way by the customs and immigration officials at the airport, while tourists are getting first class red carpet treatment. It is high time that politicians and the high officials show some respect to these migrant workers returning home.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    Agree with Neela.

    Endian tourists TAKING MONEY OUT. So that $1.5 billion is NOT correct. It should be around $0.5 billion after Endians take money out.

  3. aloy Says:

    I like to comment on two statements made by Dr.Jayasundera.

    !)” The Treasury Secretary stressed that the country was not only looking at the monetary aspect when it came to its migrant workers but was paying equal attention to their personal development, safety, welfare, rights and wellbeing of workers’ families “.

    I wrote to HE the president around 2009 that I have worked overseas for about 30 years remitting money continuously and that that money will help them to fight the war. Therefore I requested the GOSL to issue a permit for me. HE took action on it and directed the MOF to issue permits to people like me and also inform me about the action taken. What did his inefficient ministry do?. They started giving permits but did not inform me. I came to know that there was such a scheme when I went to inquire from their office in Hemas buiding and that they have stopped it due to misuse by some unscrupulous elements. About a year ago when I decided to come home I wrote to him (DR. J) only to see that he is sending my letters from pillar to post for advise and appropriate action. One day the old car I was using stalled uphill on Horton place near Wijerama junction and there was a long line of cars (most of them luxury) infront and behind. No one even bothered to put down a shutter and see what is holding up the flow. And this old man (me) had to get down and push the car uphill to make way for others. Ultimately who came to my help?. A bus full of ordinary workers coming down on opposite direction stopped and a few clad in sorongs came running for my help. A policeman who was nearby also help me to push it downward and start; these are the people who have kindness in their hearts and true Sinhalayas. Next day I spent Rs. 5.4m to buy a used car which would have cost me even less that half that. A letter came few days later saying they regret. Now every Tom, Dick and Harry get a permit thank to us who send foreign exchange. Last month I sent equivalent of 1m and last week I deposited another 100,000. This the money he is boating about.

    2) “These workers bring in new skills, capital, technology and risk taking abilities which augur well for their future development” he added.”
    What is the encouragement the present GOSL gives to local skilled people in Engineering and Technology?. Only lip service. With required expertice and technology I tried to get involved with a World bank funded and Opec funded project. In the first case we were not even pre-qualified and there was no reply or an acknowledgement to an appeal while in the latter even though I had a full team doing a similar job in SL on an important highway, the reason for non consideration is that our company does not have local experience. How can we show experience as a company if we do not get any job?. And I feel Dr.J is also to be blamed for this situation for not having a suitable mechanism to engage people like us.

    I informed some commentators in this forum that I will return when I make a headway on a project that is closer to my heart. I give bellow a link to a forum where I am currently discussing with others on that subject. If I get an opportunity I will initiate a project to engage local engineers for kind of software development in SL. If not I will look for opportunities elsewhere:

    If possible please read all pages including the details of initiative sponsored by Australian government, the link for which you will find inside.

  4. Muhandiram Says:

    More than half of the Sri lankan houses were built by the remittence of midleastern countries,if we just go back to 80’s, 50% of houses were build by mud and Bamboo.still we are not appreciating the support and help given by those nations.(instead we are defecating in the very same plate of we are having food).

    Muhandiram.(no justice no peace).

  5. sena Says:

    Mr. Aloy’s experience may be same for all SL expatriates. Many are women (sisters of war heroes) who are under going immense hardships as housemaids. And while hailing the dollars they sent (like in this article) the do nothing power brokers in SL – politicians and officials spend the dollars on their duty free imports like cars which is denied to you and other who earned dollars for the country.

  6. helaya Says:

    I agree 100% with Nela Maha Yodaya
    Not only immigration custom, but airhostess in Sri Lankan airline are the same. We must respect these middle East workers respectfully.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Muhandiram talking nonsense. SL had houses without middle eastern money.

    IF Arabs are not robbing the SL economy by breeding like rats there is no need for SLs to toil in the middle east. Then there would be enough resources for every SL.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Tamil diaspora remittances are also SIGNIFICANT.

    In Jaffna every family has AT LEAST ONE person abroad. They send money to family. All Colombo Tamil families and Batticaloa Tamil families also have at least one abroad.

    They earn in UK, Canada and other western countries not middle east.

    Middle east money comes with WAHAB terror and Tamil diaspora western money comes with Tamil terror. SL has to find better industries and not rely TOO MUCH on these. Local MANUFACTURING and SERVICE should set up.

  9. Muhandiram Says:


    truth is always bitter,our domestic workers are exceeding 600000.the main reason they went abroad is to build a house(most of them).not for food.

  10. Ananda-USA Says:

    Lorenzo said “Local MANUFACTURING and SERVICE should set up.”

    There you go … that is what I have been saying too! Embed the education, skills and training in our people, and build the required facilities, institutions and businesses in Sri Lanka!

  11. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Most of Sri Lanka’s remittances come from migrant workers in the Middle East. But keeping this in mind the area of most growth in the world is the Asia Pacific region and not the Middle East and definitely not from the Western world.

    comments have been made of the remittances sent to Sri Lanka from the Tamil Diaspora now living mostly in the Western world. But that comes with a double edged sword for there is a resurgence to support the LTTE rising within Sri Lanka. Those involved in Sri Lanka in the resurgence of LTTE have received 20 thousand rupees from an account in Switzerland each time they are engaged in some nefarious activity. This is blood money.

    As for the Middle East Sri Lanka is already paying a heavy price far more than all the remittance. Sri Lanka is losing her Buddhist culture and faith to Islam. That is an intangible asset that once lost cannot be regained.

    Right now nations like Japan are short of skilled labor and have to import them. China too is importing labor as her economy is growing faster than the labor she can produce, There are other developed East Asian nations that need labor both skilled and unskilled as their populations age. If Sri Lanka can wean herself from the Middle East on this issue then there is a fighting chance for the Buddhist Sanga to repair what they can of the damage done by the Islamization of Sri Lanka.

  12. Lorenzo Says:


    The bitter truth is MUSLIM ARABS in SL are over 1,800,000!!

    They came to SL to get away from the desert, for food and for peace. They still come from Pakistan and Maldives. If you follow world news or thereligionofpeace website, it is EASY to see why. All Muslim countries are stuffed up!

  13. Lorenzo Says:


    That is happening.

    Middle East includes ISRAEL. It is becoming a POPULAR destination for SLs. With Israel expanding into ARAB illegally occupied territories, there is PLENTY of agricultural and manufacturing labor opportunities for SLs. NO JOBS in so called “Palestine”!

    The RISK is real.

    e.g. Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon, Iran, Egypt were BANKRUPT at some points due to WAR. It will happen to SAUDI too. So we must look beyond the MOST UNSTABLE REGION in the world for money.

  14. Lorenzo Says:


    Hambantota port will KICK START some of these. But we can’t wait till then. Govt. should START education, skills and training in our people, and build the required facilities, institutions and businesses NOW.

    TEA, GARMENTS, HOUSEMAIDS are 20th century stuff. SL should move on to 21st century economy.

    Housemaid exports have dropped 33% in MR’s rule which is GREAT. MORE needs to be done. TEA is the CURSE of SL. It busted our forests, catchment areas, destroyed food cultivation in upcountry and brought MILLIONS of Tamilians. We have to be FREE from the shackles of the COLONIAL TEA CURSE. Takes time but got to be done systematically.

  15. aloy Says:

    We are discussing here what Dr.J said. He had been a crafty civil servant involved in many scams leading him to be banned by supreme court from taking up any government post ever after. But he is there in the same capacity controlling our destiny by setting conditions for all the loans taken by this GOSL. He is a man of letters and should know how to get our country on a path to become the wonder of Asia if he is really interested throughout the donkey’s years he has been the head of Finance ministry.

    There has been no takers to my post; the closest being that of Ananda. I am not surprised. I have posted a link to a Website on CADtutor and why I did that I will explain later. I have been scanning many a technical websites like this (not on IT) but have come across only one Sri Lanka looking name in a forum called WaterCAD. That shows how far away our people are getting involved in discussions in technology. It is useless even if we have over a hundred Engineering faculties if the products that come out only concentrate on construction management or sit in government offices as director deputy finding ways to skim the government coffers. Construction management can be done by anyone who has some business acumen. I have come across construction managers or owners of construction companies who cannot read or write English and some have started as machine operators. In my estimation 90% of our Engineering graduates end up in that category.

    In todays CT ( I think Ceylon Today) one cabinet minister has status thus in Q&A session:

    “Capitalist development comprises bubbles. We are dazzled with them and wander without knowing the path to go.”

    “There must be a balance. We need to get loans with a plan.”

    He is reported to be a seventh grader. But there is lot of wisdom in what he says.
    No condition is permanent. Dr.J should consider what this minister has said for the remaining years if he wants to do something good for our nation.
    There is no need for one to be a graduate to succeed in life. I will give the story of a University dropout from Ukraine who became a multi Billionaire within a period of less than four years.
    After dropping out from uni he went to US to try his luck. He was unemployed and had to live on the dole. Since had some basic knowledge on IT he was taken in to Yahoo when he applied for a job. Within a very short time he gained enough experience, got out of that employer and formed his owned company to start on the WhatsApp project. He was clever to identify the correct tools he required for the job. There was a programming language called ‘Erlang’ (meaning Ericson Language developed by that company way back in 80s which was discarded by them as they found it no longer useful to them). But this guy found that it had a useful feature called multithreading like Java which he can use to connect millions of users at the same time. If I try to explain how exactly this exactly works my posting will be very long. He sold his product and it became very popular as many of our smart phone users know today. Mark Zuckerburg the creator of Facebook found that he has a strategy to use this product and decided to buy it for 19 billion dollars. And where did he sign the agreement for this?. At the very place he received the dole.

    Now why I included a link to a CAD forum.

    In 2003 a company called SCS of Uk developed a CAD system called PBcad and coupled it with a analysis engine for concrete structural analysis and developed a package called Orion. That package when used to model buildings and analysed give all the necessary calculation and detailed construction drawing which they have perfected now. Withing a few seconds it would generate all the require drawing which can be exported to another system like autocad and drawings prepared. The files it generate have an identification called SAP 2000 and many of our structural engineers know of an analysis package developed by SCi od US whose another package known as ETABS was used to analyze the tallest existing building of the world. To my knowledge no other company has done it so far, not even SCi.
    I have studied this system well and I want to pass it to our engineers. We can even embark on the design of a CAD system perhaps with our academics in the universities.
    If you google ‘Microstation’ you will find another technological company by the name Bentley Systems who also have been in the forefront of developing engineering software many of which I have used myself. Thy too seems to have started off by developing a CAD system.
    This has been my aim too with help of other Sri Lankans.

  16. Nanda Says:

    Sci ? you mean CSI ( pro.f Wilson’s mob) ? I know both SAP and ETABS from 1980-2014.
    Will investigate what you claim (PBcad), don’t believe it has same capabilities as these two.

    Autodesk has such system which I know well. Model using Revit, analyse using Robot , full 3D. ( Even non-linear analysis) No match for ETABS for tall buildings and no match for SAP 2000 capabilities.

  17. aloy Says:

    Sorry for the mishap due to typo. It is actually CSi (Computers Structural Inc. from California in the business since 1975) even after we started structural designs with a Main Frame computer at SEC with Fortran. The mistake our tutor did was he started off with dabba (partial differential equations instead of a simple “Hello World” stuff).
    The other one CSC orion can do all that I stated above and I have spent lot of time understanding the algorithms and the stuff in produced. When run it produces SAP2000 files. This may even be an arrangement between the two. It uses a simplistic equations given in the BS 8110 ( and several other standards) using its procedure as well as finite element analysis using the triangulation I have described in the forum.
    I got a Sri Lankan trained in their other product called Fastrak to analyze a very large steel structure. There were many Sri Lankan engineers whom I recruited using Orion since 2009.

    If given the opportunity we can build up a team that can do all that stuff. We have people in our midst who can match the Jews I mentioned in the above post. Our A level boys who enter unis can easily muster the lisp I have been talking about in the CAD forum in less than two months.

  18. Nanda Says:

    OK. That (CSC) rings a bell. I have seen them in the Structural Engineer magazine and also tested TEDDS and S_FRAME 5 years ago and was not that happy those days. As you said should be 10 times better now. I know the distributor here and will check it out for the interest. Thanks for the info.

  19. Nanda Says:

    FYI, AutoCAD is already out dated now.
    BIM using Revit , Tekla all 3D now. The good thing is you model everything including structure, pipes, services and cladding.

  20. aloy Says:

    “FYI, AutoCAD is already out dated now.”
    No, it is not. Revit (meaning revise it) is also a Autodesk product. They are the people who developed AutoCAD with AutoLISP (a member of lisp family). People in the forum say they actually stole version known as Xlisp from another person to develop the tool they wanted for the purpose. It has the 3D capability and in the forum we have been discussing how to use it for designing highways/expressways without putting the road users in danger as a fully string based modeling system ( this I believe is exactly what they have done on Southern Expressway using a package called Civil3D which is flexible only in one direction. In the other direction the designer has to assemble templates.)
    Revit can only model the building in 3D and revise it when ever they want to, it then automatically updates every thing it has in data base to the new situation. It cannot however carry out a structural analysis and generate construction drawings based on the analysis. As you may know in Singapore now it is mandatory for developers to give the BIM model along with other documents for authority approval.
    Thanks for mentioning Tekla which appears to have come from the same place as Linux.

  21. Nanda Says:

    “It cannot however carry out a structural analysis ”
    Revit can produce the analytical model. Remember I mention Autodesk ROBOT ? It is a general purpose analysis software (like SAp 2000) is running that model. Then it can transfer the reulsts back to Revit, giving you the final structure which can be built without a single plan drawn, IF the contractor has big screens to see it at site ofcourse ! At the moment Revit will print Acad drawings of your choice. There are still few hicups but generally OK. I have been using these myself. I am still hands on at this age but semi retired. I prefer SAP 2000 to ROBOT because I know the software inside out. I have the FORTRAN original and in 1985 I extracted the plate element and wrote a mesh generator to run plates only, before even the SAFE ( plate only module of SAP) came out.
    We are hijacking this forum, so shall stop for now and I may joint your other forum.

  22. Ananda-USA Says:


    It seems that you and I have some common ground in Finite Element/ Boundary Element Analyses and other Engineering Software including CAD/CAM. I remember even buying the first version of AutoCAD when it was called ACAD and ran on an IBM PC/XT powered by the Intel 8086 CPU, 512 KB RAM, and 10MB disk storage space! I still perform numerical analyses and software development for R&D and product development in my small company that my wife and I operate for FUN after formal retirement. Our current role as business entrepreneurs is proving to be much more enjoyable than our previous careers as university professors, engineers and managers because it is entirely within our control.

  23. Ananda-USA Says:

    The DEVELOPMENT PROGRESS the World Bank sees was IN PART made possible by the Funds Remitted by MILLIONS of patriotic Sri Lankan Expatriates to their families in Sri Lanka, who are out of sight but are NEVER out of their minds!

    It is now TIME to enable them to GRADUALLY COME HOME in their old age to their well earned reward of living out their lives among their families, and contributing FURTHER to the development of their Motherland giving the last full measure of their devotion to their country.

    Sri Lanka has overcome many development challenges successfully – World Bank

    ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

    May 09,Kandy: In the recent past Sri Lanka has been successful in overcoming many development challenges including moving people out of poverty and taking measures to boost shared prosperity, the World Bank said.

    Addressing the South Asian Urban Transformation Workshop held in Kandy, in central Sri Lanka, World Bank Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, Francoise Clottes said the country is now focusing on addressing new challenges involving bold decisions and transformational approaches.

    The World Bank official said given the magnitude of the urbanization process, Sri Lankan cities will have tremendous opportunities for economic and social development while facing unprecedented policy challenges at the same time.

    She said the urbanization also means greater pressure on land and housing as well as the entire networked infrastructure underlying the supply of basic urban services, leading to a rapid deterioration in a quality of life for their citizens.

    “The challenge is to respond fast and efficiently,” the official said.

    Urban development is a relatively new area of engagement for the World Bank, supported by the first IBRD loan to Sri Lanka in 2012 to regenerate Sri Lanka’s urban areas.

    The Metro Colombo Urban Development project is currently helping the Colombo Metropolitan Region to address obstacles to realizing its full economic potential, including inadequate infrastructure and services and significant vulnerability to flooding

    The World Bank is also extending its support to Sri Lankan government in the urban sector through a second large project which was approved by the World Bank Board 3 days ago- the Strategic Cities Development Project, which focuses on urban services improvement in two cities: Kandy and Galle.

    Sri Lanka is taking important steps to implement its urban vision, including connectivity improvements, urban renewal and sustainable initiatives in its strategic cities, according to the World Bank official.

    “The Bank will stand ready to provide support to understand the economic drivers of rapidly growing cities,” she said.

    “Fostering economic growth in major urban centers outside of Colombo should produce a more spatially balanced contribution to the economic opportunities and bolster shared prosperity and overall national economic growth.”

    Ms. Clottes said the Sri Lankan government is not only aware of issues connected with urbanization but also provides the space to deliberate and find means of addressing these issues.

  24. aloy Says:

    It was the WB funded MCDUP I was talking about in my posting at 7.06pm on 7th May. I am even currently involved in a similar project overseas and has the relevant experience of designing flood water pumping systems. However I did not have that experience as a company in SL. Therefore I teamed up with another overseas based company of New Zealand origin. They took lot of trouble in supplying me with the required information and I spent lot of money in printing and producing the necessary documents to comply with WB requirements for pre-qualification. Before applying I read the laudable objectives of the WB in giving some preference to local expertise and local companies to come up. But in practice it never materializes. To our GOSL the limited number of local consultants who always get government assignments and are actually the eyes and ears or listening towers of foreigners are more important. A true Bumiputra has no relevance for their equation. I was ashamed to face my JV partner even though SL is my own country where I am still a citizen. There is no information even after I wrote an appeal to indicate why we were not pre-qualified. It is up to DR. J to put in what ever required conditions to make us eligible.
    I know only Colombians will benefit from the new loan too. I am fed up and will not attempt to get in to any of these scheme as I know now it will be a futile exercise. Their recommendations and appointment are always to the wrong ones. They will appoint an architectural company for a civil job. This was so in the case of Southern expressway and it ended up being a disaster. Some one told me that even the Opec funded one mentioned above, it is the same story.

  25. Nanda Says:

    Unlike you, I did not do any “software development” for sometime. I am only a user and more to architectural modelling too.

    “A true Bumiputra has no relevance for their equation. I was ashamed to face my JV partner even though SL is my own country where I am still a citizen.”
    What a let down !
    That is why doesn’t matter even if it is slow, there SHOULD BE SOME PROGRESS in the path AGAINST stealing money. WE DO NOT SEE IT yet.

  26. aloy Says:


    “That is why doesn’t matter even if it is slow, there SHOULD BE SOME PROGRESS in the path AGAINST stealing money. WE DO NOT SEE IT yet.”

    Yes, some young people should take it up, not us, we are not that kind and also too old. Definitely not JVP as they and the tamil terrorism are two sides of the same coin, out to destroy us. When ever there was problem for them where did they run to?. To the North. They did not have any hesitation to kill Sinhalas. Our uni students have failed to understand this and disrupting their education. Like headless chicken they put head bands and run riots in the streets. A pathetic situation.

  27. aloy Says:

    Correction: The posting at May 8th, 8.41 has to be corrected as follows:
    “An Ukrainian Jewish boy migrated to US with parents. He later dropped out from a uni there and was unemployed for some time and had to depend on dole…”

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