President assures business community consideration of debt moratorium extension

Friday, 13 January 2023 01:41 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Woman Entrepreneur of the Year 2022 National Award winner Genelabs Medical CEO and Chief Scientist Dr. Chandanamali Punchihewa 



Main winners of the Women Entrepreneur of the Year Awards with President Ranil Wickremesinghe at the ceremony on Wednesday – Pix by Shehan Gunasekara


  • Stresses Sri Lanka needs more women entrepreneurs at WCIC organised Women Entrepreneur of the Year Award ceremony

 President Ranil Wickremesinghe on Wednesday assured the private sector that he will look into the possibility of an extension of the debt moratorium to protect businesses and provide necessary relief.

He said that the Central Bank Governor had been informed to look into this matter while protecting the banks.

The President made this revelation in his remarks at the Women Entrepreneur of the Year ‘Pratibha Abhisheka 2022’ awards ceremony organised by the Women’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (WCIC).

“This is the hardest work we have to do. We cannot live like this forever. Even if we live with hardships, we must move forward quickly. The current inflation is a problem that every business has to face. If we continue with these decisions, we can reduce inflation. Bank interest can be reduced. If decisions cannot be made, inflation will increase,” the President said.

President Wickremesinghe further said: “We are currently working to secure IMF assistance as soon as possible. The countries that have given us loans have already stated their willingness to assist us. Japan and the Paris Club, two of our three major creditors, have expressed their willingness to assist. 

“We have already begun talks with India and China. According to the discussions with China Exim Bank recently, we’re currently debating on how to restructure our debt. The Chinese side has agreed to move quickly.

“India’s Foreign Minister will be arriving in Sri Lanka next week. India is in debt restructuring discussions. The Government will receive $ 2.9 billion from the IMF. After that, we can get nearly $ 5 billion from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank. The total will be $ 7.5 billion. In addition, $ 3 billion from the restructuring of unprofitable Government enterprises can add up to $ 10 billion, which will enable the economy to recover and bring the country out of this suffering.”

The President commended the Chamber for the pioneering work it has done to get women involved in business and stressed the need to focus on the micro category where a large number of women who run small shops at the village level are engaged in business. 

He also pointed out that the largest numbers of entrepreneurs that are not recognised in Sri Lanka are moneylenders. “There are a large number of women moneylenders, and in some areas, they are the ones who dominate. The Government, too, is interested to look at all the micro-enterprises, not only by women but also by men.”

President Wickremesinghe further revealed that the country needs more women entrepreneurs and WCIC should help the women’s chamber since the number of women entrepreneurs is small compared to many other countries. “Though Sri Lanka’s population consists of 52% females, we should at least have a large number of women entrepreneurs that can come and certainly help to develop the economy.”

The President also revealed that this year the Government will be introducing some laws drafted by the Women’s Caucus in Parliament, which will also deal with women’s empowerment and the Women’s National Commission. Measures are underway to put a provision that will enable them to have at least one or two women on the boards of major companies and see more women employed in the private sector. 

Prof. Maithri Wickremesinghe, Ambassador of Nepal Bashu Dev Mishra, Acting British High Commissioner Lisa Whanstall, WCIC Chairperson Anoji De Silva and the officials of the WCIC were present on this occasion.