SMEs should play key role - PM
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka yesterday said that Small and
Medium size Enterprises (SMEs) should play a key role in promoting
grassroots economic growth which in turn would contribute to supplement
equitable sustainable development in the country.
The Premier was addressing a function held at the Presidential
Secretariat organized by the National Chamber of Commerce of Sri Lanka
at which they handed over cash grants to 70 identified budding SME
entrepreneurs to further their enterprises.
The cash grants were given through the Business Promotion Fund
established by the NCCSL under their SME development program. The effort
is being funded by the Government of the Netherlands.
Cash grants to chosen SME entrepreneurs were distributed in the
presence of Export Development and International Trade Minister, Prof.
G.L. Pieris, Industries Development Minister Kumara Welgama, the
Ambassador of the Government of the Netherlands Leoni Cuelenaere, NCCSL
officials and the Netherlands Embassy officials.
The Premier also said that the NCCSL had been able to encourage the
growth of profitable and sustainable SMEs even in the remotest of areas
of the country.
This has not only enhanced the SME’s contribution to the Gross
Domestic Product but also has contributed to employment generation in
rural areas, he said.
Citing details presented by a NCCSL official regarding their
contribution to the growth of the SME sector, the Premier said that
through this he had come to know that their support for SMEs did not
stop at cash grant level but extended to other areas such as technical
support, helping SMEs to adjust to changing market conditions and
helping reduce their vulnerability.
While emphasizing that SMEs had a pivotal role to play in the
country’s future economic growth, the Premier also said that today the
world economic order is changing.
While some long-standing western economic super powers are on the
decline, nations such as India, China and Russia are showing signs of
taking over using innovative means.
Sri Lanka too should take a cue from these emerging trends for the
betterment of the country’s economy, he said.
The Premier also brought to the notice of the officials the
reluctance of transporters of goods such as vegetables, fruits and other
perishables to adopt proper packaging methods which he said was spoiling
around 40 percent of the goods transported.
He urged authorities to come out with a viable mechanism to arrest
the problem. The Premier on the occasion also thanked the Netherlands
Government for coming forward to fund the effort.
The NCCSL during the event pointed out that their contribution to
supplement the local economy using innovative means and by way of
encouraging emerging enterprises since their inception in 1948 had paid
According to them presently 500 corporations and 3,500 SMEs are under
their wing which are linked through 20 branches throughout the country.
Under the present effort the Government of the Netherlands has
granted $ 2 million to help SMEs. According to the NCCSL they have
already distributed Rs.134 million to 703 deserving SMEs upto now.
Also according to them the results so far has been very encouraging
with many SMEs emerging as profit making viable business entities with
the help of additional funding.
SMEs have become more important in the economic matrixes seen in
recent years across the globe through increased government interventions
and legislation aimed at nurturing these enterprises as engines of
economic growth and employment creation. It is also estimated that SMEs
constitute over 90 percent of total enterprises in most economies with a
high rate of employment growth.
They are also a vehicle for increased industrial production and
exports. In Japan it is estimated that SME’s contribute 99 per cent for
the GDP. Also in the USA and EU countries it is estimated that SMEs
contribute over 60 percent in employment, 40-60 percent to GDP and 30-60
percent to exports.
Asian nations such as India, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Japan, and
South Korea also have thriving SMEs sectors contributing between 70-90
percent in employment and an estimated 40 percent for the GDP.