A boost for Vision 2025 | Daily News


A boost for Vision 2025

Moneragala is one of the most impoverished regions of the country and indeed, many Northern villages which bore the brunt of the conflict for 30 years are in much better shape than some of the villages around Moneragala. The Government, which has formulated two village development programmes called Grama Shakthi (Strength for Villages) and Gam Peraliya (Village Revolution), has realised the need to literally lend a helping to enterprising youth in both urban and rural areas to rejuvenate the economy. This is the premise behind the Enterprise Sri Lanka and Vision 2025 programmes of the Government, which envisions a more economically empowered nation by the titular year. President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are personally leading these efforts, which exemplify the Government’s commitment to rural development at the highest levels.

It is therefore appropriate that the first-ever Enterprise Sri Lanka Exhibition was held in Moneragala, an area aspiring to break out of poverty and under-development. According to our reporters, the Enterprise Sri Lanka National Exhibition centred on reconciliation, democracy and development that ended yesterday was a resounding success. The exhibition consisted of 12 zones and 515 trade stalls of private and public sectors to raise awareness among the public on the implementation of the recently launched interest subsidized loan scheme under Enterprise Sri Lanka. The exhibition also apprised the public of the progress of present and future development projects of the Government. Several village-level infrastructure projects initiated under the Gamperaliya rapid rural development programme in parallel to the exposition were also launched. In addition, several rural and provincial roads will also be developed and all schools in the district without access to proper sanitation facilities will be provided with such facilities.

This is no flashy exhibition unlike Deyata Kirula, which was an extravagant carnival held by the previous regime, spending billions of rupees of public funds. On the other hand, Enterprise Sri Lanka is an expo with a purpose where the people, especially the youth, are the direct beneficiaries. And Moneragala is only the beginning. In a bid to take the culture of entrepreneurship to villages, improve livelihoods and usher in prosperity, the Government is planning to conduct this series of awareness campaigns islandwide including Jaffna and Anuradhapura to facilitate the implementation of ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’. The expositions will educate the public on the Government’s recently launched accelerated rural infrastructure investment scheme, Gamperaliya, a key highlight of the Government’s hallmark future economic development policy programme, ‘Vision 2025’.

State universities can only accommodate around 25,000 students per year, which means that around 150,000 students are left out of such higher educational opportunities. Instead of waiting for Government jobs to materialize, these youth can opt for many other avenues including self-employment and Small and Medium Enterprises (SME) projects. But there are many impediments to starting such projects, the lack of credit being one of them. Many banks hesitate to grant loans to these youth, as they often have no collateral or no prior experience in such projects. This is where Enterprise Sri Lanka comes in with flexible loan schemes facilitated by the Government itself.

‘The Enterprise Sri Lanka’ initiative, launched in July this year, with an allocation of over Rs. 5.2 billion comprises 16 credit financing schemes under three categories - interest subsidy loan scheme, donor-funded refinance loan scheme and financial and non-financial support programme. A total of 11 loan schemes are offered under the interest-subsidy scheme including Ran Aswenna, Govi Navoda, Riya Shakthi, Rivi Bala Savi, Diri Saviya, Jaya Isura, Sonduru Piyasa and Madya Aruna. The donor funded refinance loan scheme consists of three categories - Rooftop Solar Power Generation Project, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises Line of Credit Project and Pavithra Ganga Initiative.

The objective of the programme is to support young entrepreneurs in villages and strengthen their small businesses by providing capital on easy terms through the State-owned banks. The loan schemes address financing needs of small scale farmers, agro and fish processing establishments, poultry producers, potential home and vehicle buyers, women and youth. All state banks and branches have set up a special desk and ‘Relationship Manager’ to handle Enterprise Sri Lanka loans. The Government has set aside Rs 200 million per electorate for the next four months and intends to inject more money into the rural economy. Sri Lanka is a primarily agricultural country with a majority rural population. However, as in most other countries, many rural youth are coming in search of white collar jobs in the cities, leaving the traditional vocations of their fathers such as farming and fishing. These must be modernised to appeal to the rural youth. A youth who literally does not like to get his feet wet may still like to do farming seated in the A/C cabin of a brand new tractor. Enterprise Sri Lanka can make it possible. Youth have many dreams that can take them to the top and Enterprise Sri Lanka has the potential to take them there.

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