Sri Lanka starts upgrading SMEs

Saturday, 25 August 2012 03:13 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Having infused technology awareness to the tune of US$ 120,000 (Rs. 15 million) to its crucial SMEs so far, Sri Lanka is moving to introduce automation to the sector – while also paying tribute to their contribution.

“The need of the hour for our SMEs is technology transfer and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce is pleased to facilitate this year’s initiative too, where we will introduce automation to our SME sector for the first time in Sri Lanka, via Computer Numerical Controlled (CNC) machine technology. CNC machines are powerful tools of automation and can operate 24 hours round the clock to flexibly produce any design for our SMEs,” announced Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishad Bathiudeen yesterday.

Bathiudeen was addressing the inaugural event of Sri Lanka’s leading national SME machinery and tech exhibition and forum, ‘SME 2012,’ at the BMICH.

The seventh national machinery, technology and services exhibition, facilitated by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce, supported by the Ministry of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development, and organised by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and its Small and Medium Enterprise Developers (Project SMED), is an ongoing event that has seen the infusion of Rs. 15 m (US$ 120,000) so far by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The Ministry of Industry and Commerce is facilitating this year’s event with a Rs. 2.2 m outlay financially, and apart from this, in many other ways of empowerment. More than 100 exhibitors catering to SME technology in industry, light engineering, agriculture, fisheries, and livestock are displaying their wares at Sri Lankan and Indian pavilions at the exhibition.

Well-known Indian machinery firms such as Vikhram Hydraulics, Chass Engineering, Crystal Electric, G.K.S. Engg P. Jet Inks P, Pyara Singh & Sons, Shachi Engg P Ltd, and Shanti Boilers are taking part in this year’s show.

Lankan machinery firms such as Unilever, Browns & Co, Samson Industries, Micro Cars Ltd., Marbo Trading Co, API Machinery (Pvt) Ltd., Dave Tractors (Pvt) Ltd., FRP Technologies, MDH Fiber, AMW, Torento Engineering, Etisalat, Mytools Pvt Ltd., CMC Engineering Gmbh, and Lanka Industrial Automation Solutions Pvt. Ltd. are also taking part.

Other key Lankan participants are the Rubber Research Institute, Sri Lanka Insurance Co, Industrial Development Board, Palmyrah Development Board and the Handicraft – Cheer Project. Among the banks taking part are HNB Leasing and Union Bank.

The event, which will conclude today, 25 August, is also hosting – in parallel – a two-day SME Forum (on 24 and 25 August), in all three languages. Among the topics discussed by subject experts are ‘Government Policy and Strategy for SME Development,’ ‘Role of the Ministry to Protect in Traditional and Small Enterprises,’ ‘Role of the Ministry to Develop Industrial Sector in SL,’ ‘New Technology for Better Productivity,’ ‘IT Applications for SMEs – SME Toolkit’ and ‘Banking Practices for SMEs’.

“On behalf of the Government and the people, I extend my heartiest thanks to the SMEs in Sri Lanka for their valuable contribution to sustain us. SMEs are the core of our growing economy and the growth driver. SMEs are also the base of our ‘rural economy’ and this important sector is the main channel through which rural women connect to our GDP output. As you may be aware, more than 80% of our growing economy is powered by the small and medium sector,” said Bathiudeen.

He added: “Thanks to the leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, we expect a strong 7.2% GDP growth this year despite the global downturn and also thanks to the efforts of Economic Development Minister Basil Rajapaksa and Minister of Traditional Industries and Small Enterprise Development Douglas Devananda, our SME sector is now being revived. CNC technology is especially aimed at SME industries where manpower has become a crucial problem. The seventh in this series of exhibitions, this is also one of the longest, on-going, Public-Private Partnership (PPP) efforts in Sri Lanka.”

The exhibition is showcasing many technologies and machinery used across almost all SMEs. Among them were CNC engraving machines, various dairy processing machines that could be used not only in SMEs but even micro and large scales, food processing machinery and metal works machinery and many other devices, which were praised by many exhibitors.

Industrial Stainless Steel Fabrications Pvt. Ltd. (ISF) Manager – Engineering Sales and Marketing K. Kulendran said: “This series of exhibitions is a strong opening for firms like us engaged in SMEs. We believe that we have an opportunity to showcase our products not only to local SMEs but even the Indian SME firms coming here”.

ISF, a Colombo-based $ 2.2 m (2011 revenue) firm, manufactures a range of dairy and food processing machinery and also supplies to Nestlé and Milco. It is also a leading exporter of medium and large milk cooling tanks to the Indian dairy sector.