SMEs encouraged to invest in greener, energy efficient solutions

Thursday, 26 September 2013 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) together with the Ministry of Finance and Planning recently organised a workshop for representatives from Government Ministries, authorities, private institutions and banks on possibilities of becoming more competitive by introducing greener solutions into the SME sector. The need to invest in green economy and green growth was emphasised by GIZ consultant Thomas Finkel. “It is widely believed that climate change is largely a result of manmade greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and if no action is taken, is likely to intensify. Other environmental challenges like water quality and availability, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, worsening soil condition are increasing alarmingly. In the awake of these issues, everyone is looking for alternatives and that’s why solutions like green economy, green growth are discussed,” he said. Director General of the Development Finance Department, Ministry of Finance and Planning Dr. D.S. Jayaweera in his key note address said that more than 75% of the SME sector uses natural resources such as air, water and soil.  “Therefore since we are using these resources, we have to preserve these resources to maintain the ecological balance. It can be any kind of bio diversity, fauna and flora, stream and ground water.  We have a $ 65 billion economy and our natural resources are our wealth and it is a necessity that we preserve these,” Dr. Jayaweera stated. “The government, through its  development policy framework ‘Mahinda Chinthana, vision for the future’” has recognised that SMEs are a main segment in the growth of the economy and has continuously provided incentives, tax concessions and specific benefit schemes to help these businesses. If you take the finance sector, the government is encouraging SMEs to have more green economic related investments. “The government has introduced a matching grant program to the service sector where entrepreneurs are encouraged to renewable energy sources to be used and to preserve the landscape and bio diversity of the area. Through these projects the government is keen to promote a green economy in the SME sector development,” Dr Jayaweera added. “If you take the global market, Samsung is a leading product developer who started as an SME establishment in 1970s with $ 100,000 investment and as of today they are competing with one of the biggest companies like Microsoft. There is good hope for SME sector,” Dr. Jayaweera noted. Dr. Jayaweera thanked the GIZ for organising this workshop which is on a timely and good topic for discussion. Dr. Thusitha Sugathapala, Director General of the Sri Lanka Sustainable Energy Authority, Ministry of Environment and Renewable Energy in his presentation noted that energy demand in the SME sector is mainly for thermal energy applications and many use biomass as a source of energy. He also noted that increasingly SMEs are shifting from fossils to biomass due to inadequate supply of fuelwood. He also said that lack of awareness on energy saving and potential in saving energy, absence of incentives / disincentives for energy has minimized the SMEs interest in investing in energy efficient solutions. Through the Sri Lankan-German SME Development Program, implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Finance and Planning, GIZ aims to support a cohesive policy framework that enables SME to grow in an inclusive and eco-friendly manner, enhance competitiveness of SME due to technology transfer and innovation, improve access to finance for SME, and enable SME to take advantage of green technologies and maintain nature’s capital for sustainable growth.