On 09 June 2020, Minister of Skills Development, Employment and Labour Relations Dinesh Gunawardena made the above statement in the context of setting up a social security fund for Sri Lanka’s overseas workers. To evaluate this claim, FactCheck consulted data on foreign workers’ remittances back to Sri Lanka during the period 2015-2019 available in the 2019 Annual Report of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL).
Gunawardena’s statement was made against the backdrop of the significant number of workers returning to Sri Lanka—particularly from the Middle East—as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CBSL data shows over 50% of remittances were sent by workers in the Middle East from 2015 to 2019.
In 2018 Sri Lanka’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) amounted to LKR 14,366,103 million. At LKR 1,138,124 million (USD 7,015 million) workers’ remittances accounted for 7.9% of that year’s GDP. This is consistent with the data from 2015 to 2019 as well (Exhibit 1).
Therefore, we classify the minister’s statement as TRUE.
*FactCheck’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck will revisit the assessment.
Exhibit 1: Annual worker remittances as a percentage of GDP (2015 – 2019)
Exhibit 2: Percentage share of worker remittances by region of origin (2015 – 2019)
- Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report (2019), Special Statistical Appendix, Tables 2 & 4, available at: https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/publications/economic-and-financial-reports/annual-reports/annual-report-2019
- Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report (2019), Statistical Appendix, Tables 67 & 93, available at: https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/publications/economic-and-financial-reports/annual-reports/annual-report-2019