Crisis-hit Sri Lanka on Tuesday reduced to 21 the minimum age at which women can go abroad for work and earn much-needed dollars for the bankrupt economy.
“The cabinet of ministers approved the decision to lower the minimum age to 21 years for all countries given the need to increase foreign employment opportunities,” spokesman Bandula Gunawardana told reporters.
Remittances from Sri Lankans working abroad have long been a key source of foreign exchange for the country, bringing in around $7 billion per year.
This number dived during the coronavirus pandemic to $5.4 billion in 2021 and was forecast to drop under $3.5 billion this year because of the economic crisis.
More than 1.6 million people from the nation of 22 million work abroad, mainly in the Middle East.
The South Asian country’s foreign currency reserves are so low that the government has restricted imports even of essentials including food, fuel and medicine.