By Cheranka Mendis
A national programme to mobilise small and medium entrepreneurs under an umbrella organisation was launched yesterday with the commencement of ‘Sri Lanka Federation of Industrial Association’ under the initiative of the Industrial Development Board (IDB).
The Association which works under a network of regional, district and national levels will act as an intermediary between the government and the industry in formulating and implementing policies to transfer latest technology to rural areas and coming into certain resolutions on the challenges in the industry. The Association would benefit the micro, small and medium scale industries as well as the self employment sector of the country.
With the SME sector accounting for 80 per cent of the enterprises in Sri Lanka, the development of the sector is imperative to the national economy. Its importance was even stressed in the Mahinda Chinthanaya, where it is stated that the government would aim at upgrading 5000 small industries to medium level and 200 medium industries to large scale businesses on an annual basis.
Chairman of the Industrial Development Board (IDB) Udayasri Kariyawasam speaking at the launch stated that with the scarcity of resources that exist in Sri Lanka, it is not practical to launch a huge number of large scale industries in the country within a short period of time. However developing the SME sector was more timely and appropriate, Kariyawasam said.
“We hope to upgrade the existing SME industries and create more such industries increasing the job opportunities for the people. This would increase the economies of the households and therefore boost the national economy,” Kariyawasam said.
Through the Association, the IDB has taken steps to relax the requirements for loans for SMEs in association of a leading state bank. He assured that discussions are on to provide the same in the future by private sector.
“There are many factors the SMEs must look at both on a national and international level before preparing for exports. On the local front prices of raw materials are constantly rising. There are other challenges in the external front. An SME must be aware of this before he ventures out into export trade.”
The objectives of the Association were listed so as to overcome obstacles faced by entrepreneurs in all sectors when they obtain resources, facilities and services for their industries, establish an efficient marketing network, and facilitate entrepreneurs for economic and social upliftment.
Minister of Traditional Industries and SME Douglas Devananda who was also present at the event stated that technical knowledge is an important value addition in the sector. The necessary infrastructure for its development has already been supplied, said Devananda.
“A new management structure must be introduced to the metal sector of the SMEs. This is a sector that we can expand and grow vastly in. To support the sector we have stopped import of metal for six months. This I feel would give the sector the necessary boost to grow,” Devananda said. Based on the successful performance of the overall SME industry, beneficial concessions could be achieved in the next budget, he asserted.
The event concluded with the selection of office bearers. Jagath Dissanayake of Pentium 2000 Stationary Pvt. Ltd, Maththagama, Kandy was elected President of Sri Lanka Federation of Industrial Association while Nandana Premasiri of Mawanella was elected the Secretary of the Association.