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Sunday, 3 February 2013

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Private sector can thrive in conducive climate

The private sector is recognised as the backbone of the economy. The contribution that can be made by the private sector is has been made clear by the experiments of some major economies that have allocated a prominent role to the private sector.

Several waves of reforms in these countries have sustained growth for extended periods. Although Sri Lanka liberalised its economy before India, terrorism constricted growth. Decades of a controlled economy had stifled private sector creativity. Unfortunately, even today the private sector is cautious because of policy uncertainty, the National Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (NCCSL), President Sunil G Wijesinha said.

A strong private sector with substantial investment going into it can make a significant contribution to the economy and this cannot be stressed enough. But this doesn’t happen automatically.

While the Government has already provided many incentives and positive policies to encourage the private sector in recent budgets, much more needs to be done, especially in providing a conducive climate for the private sector to truly thrive.

“We need a co-ordinated strategic plan for the country. While we are proud of our economic achievements there are also warning signs ahead. We talk with pride that the level of unemployment is now low,” he said.

“Our Chamber is passionate about the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector. We believe that SMEs can be the driving force of this new growth, if given the right environment to thrive,” Wijesingha said. “We need to move beyond thinking of only concessionary loan schemes such as the ‘magic bullet’ for SME development.

Look at SME development of neighbouring countries such as Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand – why did their strategies succeed? Because they focussed on all aspects of SME development – not just loans.”

“They created eco-systems of business development that helped SMEs unleash their potential – technology transfer, better management techniques, helping them become competitive and go on to exports. We can learn from these strategies. Our chamber has done much to promote SMEs, and we will continue to do so. But we need to push further and the government has a strong role to play,” Wijesingha said. - SJ

 

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