During a Samagi Jana Balawegaya press conference, MP Wickramaratne made two claims in relation to remittances: (i) the highest amount of remittances was received during the 2016-2018 period, and (ii) remittances have been on a steady decline since 2020, currently declining to USD 3.7 billion.
To verify these claims, FactCheck.lk consulted the Annual Reports of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL1) for various years and the monthly economic indicators by the CBSL (CBSL2) for 2023.
Exhibit 1 confirms the MP’s first claim. It shows that the highest level of remittances was recorded during 2016-2018, consistently exceeding USD 7 billion. This same amount was also achieved in 2020.
CBSL1 supports part of the MP’s second claim, indicating a continuous decrease in remittances from 2020 to 2022. When the MP says “today” it would be interpreted as the current state of remittances in 2023. But he is referring to the last available annual data for 2022, in which remittances totalled only USD 3.7 billion.
However, more current data is available on remittances, and that data does not align with part of the MP’s second claim. Data in CBSL2 shows that from January to August 2023, remittances amounted to more than USD 3.8 billion, surpassing the total remittances for 2022. If the monthly average is maintained, total remittances would be USD 5.8 billion in 2023.
To summarise, while the MP is correct about the peak years for remittances and the decline after 2020, he incorrectly presents that decline in remittances to USD 3.7 billion by the end of 2022 as reflecting the current status; whereas monthly data is available to show that there has been a significant increase in remittances in 2023.
Therefore, we classify his statement as PARTLY TRUE.
*FactCheck.lk’s verdict is based on the most recent information that is publicly accessible. As with every fact check, if new information becomes available, FactCheck.lk will revisit the assessment.
Exhibit 2: Workers Remittances Monthly figures for 2023
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Annual Report (Various years), available at:
https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/en/publications/economic-and-financial-reports/annual-reports [last accessed: 30 September 2023]
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Data Library, available at:
https://www.cbsl.lk/eresearch/ [last accessed: 30 September 2023]
Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Monthly Economic Indicators, available at: https://www.cbsl.gov.lk/statistics/economic-indicators/monthly-indicators [last accessed: 11 October 2023]