Budget Highlights 2021: Challenges and opportunities for SME sector organised by CMA Sri Lanka COVID-19 SME Development Committee was held last week via Zoom.
Chief Guest State Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal in his address stressed the importance of the SME sector and that it was the backbone of the economy as stated by the Prime Minister at the inauguration of the SME Conference in Hambantota.
He stated that many of the SMEs are in difficulties and if we are to help them there should be a system to provide them equity capital instead of going for more and more loans. There should be a fund created or banks need to consider how equity capital could be provided. Also, to provide incentives to investors who will invest in SMEs.
The minister also supported the Credit Guarantee Fund initiated by the CMA Sri Lanka COVID-19 SME Development Committee and said that he will take all possible measures to expedite the grant of approval required from the Finance Ministry.
The seminar gave details of the Budget Tax proposals, the impact on the SMEs and how they can benefit. Dr. Rajapakse Emeritus MD of the DSI Group stated that there were many measures that would help the local industries and that curtailing of imports and promoting domestic industries and exports was a good strategy of the Budget proposals.
At the panel discussion it was stated by Suresh De Mel Bard Member of the Hambantota Chamber that the details of the Budget should be made known to all SMEs as many did not know what was there in the Budget proposals. Hence, he was of the opinion that the Committee should take this seminar to all regions in order that they will know the benefits given in the Budget proposals. Investors from the regions wanted more focus on the SME industry and was of the opinion that the suggestion on an equity fund and the credit guarantee institution should be expedited to grant assistance to SMEs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prof. Lakshman R. Watawala was confident that the Government will work speedily to approve the Credit Guarantee Institution and the suggestion made by Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal to set up the Equity Capital Institution to invest in SMEs.
The seminar conducted via zoom in the Sinhala medium was attended by over 175 participants and was the first large scale seminar on the Budget held specially for the SME sector.