- Mangala says initiative supports Govt. strategy to enhance SME capacity
- SEC Chairman calls on professionals to assist SME sector
Launching the Small and Medium Enterprise Board, Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka Chairman Ranel T. Wijesinha yesterday urged banking and professional bodies to engage and assist entrepreneurs in the sector.
“I am seeking a dividend on behalf of the Small and Medium Enterprises community of the country. We need to recognise and have our feet firmly planted in Sri Lanka. We cannot have the best of bluechips alone being provided with the best of advice from you. If I discounted 60% of my fees for SMEs when working overseas because it was the policy of my firm, I don’t see any reason the same cannot happen in Sri Lanka. That would be, in my mind, an inherent corporate social responsibility initiative,” he said, speaking at the Small and Medium Enterprise Boardlaunch event.
The Board, named Empower, a joint initiative of the Colombo Stock Exchange and SEC, lists SMEs in the country and providesa range of new methods of raising equity-based capital. The facility, available for the SME sector as a means of raising equity-based capital, will offer a host of services and help in attracting strategic investors.
“We intend to bring together all these arms of this nation’s Charted Accountants,the Banking community and the chambers to bring much more than value,” Wijesinha said.
Quoting from the strategy for industrialisation written in December 1989, advocating the first ever set of incentives for capital market development given by the Premadasa Government, Wijesinha said the need for incentives was still there.
“We have forgotten how these incentives propelled the market almost 29 years ago.Those incentives were realised only because they were presented with the purpose of empowering entrepreneurship and incentivising Small and Medium Enterprises which 29 years ago we felt were needed and even today we feel there is a compelling need,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Finance and Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera welcomed the initiative that can could support the Government’s policy to promote SMEs.
“This is an important step in the empowerment of private enterprise in Sri Lanka, which is a key tenet of the Government’s economic program. The SME Board will be an important complement to the Enterprise Sri Lanka initiative which was launched recently at developing entrepreneurs and the SME sector of the country,” he said.
The SME Board will play a crucial role as Sri Lankan entrepreneurs graduate to the next step from a start-up economy to capital markets, the Minister said.
Samaraweera, advocating a move away from State-led development, said that the Government would support companies in their early stages.
“But eventually companies must evolve to stand on their own feet and grow into larger enterprises,” he said.
“I understand that the SME Board will provide the necessary flexibility to encourage the listing of small businesses and gradually expose them to the expectations of mature capital markets. The launch of the SME Board is indeed a crucial step in the evolution and development of Sri Lanka’s capital markets. It will also play a major role in expanding access to finance in Sri Lanka,” he said.