SLCSMI initiates discussion on practical solutions for SMEs during pandemic | Daily News


SLCSMI initiates discussion on practical solutions for SMEs during pandemic

The panelists at the discussion on practical solutions for SMEs during pandemic times
The panelists at the discussion on practical solutions for SMEs during pandemic times

Committed to uplift the country’s small and medium enterprises (SME) sector with awareness building, knowledge sharing and business support, the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI) hosted its third successful webinar ‘Practical Solutions Beyond Theories for SMEs’ over Zoom and Facebook Live, bringing together an eminent panel of business professionals to discuss how SME sector entrepreneurs could overcome the negatives of the pandemic.

Moderated by Management Consultant and Senior Chartered Accountant Chaaminda Kumarasiri and preceded by Chartered Interior Architect, Chartered Furniture Designer and President of SLCSMI Rohan De Silva, the webinar panellists included Chairman of People’s Bank, Managing Partner of BDO Partners and Fellow Member and Past President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) Sujeewa Rajapakse, Director of Small Enterprises Development Division of the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Project Management and Southern Development Sudheera Jayarathna, and Group Chairman of DSI Samson Group Kulatunga Rajapaksa.

“There is going to be considerable negative impact on the economy due to Covid-19, and at times like this, fiscal stimulus is the correct move,” stated Sujeewa Rajapakse commending the Sri Lankan government for the introduction of several stimulus packages to the business community and society at large.

Chairman of People’s Bank shared his beliefs that the current economic slowdown will continue for the next 6-12 months, and that no matter the size of the industry, “we have to face this reality.” He noted that maintaining liquidity is key to all SMEs, as is proactive communication to ensure that stakeholders are informed and assured at all times. “SMEs, can’t be isolated at this time as transformation is taking place and digitalisation has become the norm,where you will have to face impairments in your balance sheets, and will need to reassess assets and have to go by principle, not sentiment.”

Sudheera Jayarathna highlighted a common weakness of local SME businesspeople in not having the right confidence to build good relationships with external stakeholders, even when it comes to mandatory activities like banking or paying taxes. “These results in businesses opting for other alternatives for financing or maintaining business operations, causing them to incur more expenses than they would have if the correct procedures were followed. Therefore , you have to build personality and confidence in order to build good networks and rapport. Then you will find that there are so much that can be done through just a phone call. It is important to not be scared to use technology and social media, especially when they are so easily available and probably the only effective option to continue business in times of a pandemic.”

The importance of financial discipline for SMEs was brought to light by Kulatunga Rajapaksa: “We have to teach businessmen the importance of accounting: you don’t own the money you earn from your business , it belongs to all the stakeholders, and you can’t just take money from the cash register without accounting for it. It is necessary for the government to step in and help small businesses to at least pay the basic wages of their employees for some time. These businesses just need a small push to get through these next few months,” he averred.

The webinar concluded with Rohan De Silva thanked the panelists, chamber’s technology partner Blue Lotus 360, consultancy partner HCP Consulting led by Chaaminda Kumarasiri and the webinar team. 

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