Chamber of Commerce to enrich SME sector
The National Forum on Small and Medium Enterprise Employment (NFSMEE)
to be organised by the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) next month will
boost the SME sector which makes a salient contribution to the economy,
said CCC Solution, Managing Director and CEO Chandula Abeywickrema.
He said that the the CCC has taken the lead on behalf of all
stakeholders including the banking and finance sector to create a
framework that will enhance employment and enrich the SME sector in the
The forum will help identify, discuss, deliberate and present issues
and solutions relating to the creation of an enabling environment for
business which will include regulatory support, capacity building for
SMEs, access to finance, supply and value chain links, match making and
market creation, production and quality standards, strategic information
sharing and lobbying and advocacy. Most SMEs have moved on to the medium
and large sectors having ventured into the export market with
value-added niche products. The SMEs are considered the backbone of the
economy and have benefited from training programs, exposure and trade
facilitation by chambers.
Abeywickrema said that the role that the small and medium enterprises
play in any emerging economy is an important factor, as it triggers
economic growth, employment generation and wealth distribution,
resulting in an improvement in the quality of life of the people.
During the last two decades there have been several initiatives to
strengthen the SME sector with the public and private sector with
technical assistance from multilateral agencies.
Despite these efforts, Sri Lanka is yet to identify the key role the
SME sector should play in economic growth plans in the next ten years
and the development of the SME sector is crucial to make it a viable and
sustainable contributor to the national economy.
“The forum on SMEs is a timely initiative that creates greater
inclusivity by drawing all stake holders in the public and private
sectors directly and indirectly engaged in driving, facilitating and
empowering the SME sector to bring much needed economic growth to
regional and rural Sri Lanka," he said.
"Through a strong SME sector with a significant rural and regional
presence and engagement would create employment opportunities and
economic activities that will create multiple economic inclusivity with
abundant cash flow to rural and regional Sri Lanka," Abeywickrema said.
There are number of other issues the SMEs face secondary to finance.
First, strong public sector institutional support, assistance and
facilitation is critical. Public institutions such as the Labour, Inland
Revenue and Land Departments have a major role to play. Even more than
the collateral the skills and the abilities of SMEs to tell their
success story in numbers so that the banks can facilitate access, is a
great challenge faced by them.
A national policy, the National Policy Framework for SME sector
development, is being finalised by the Traditional Industries and Small
Enterprise Development Ministry. It will be presented at the October
forum by the Ministry Secretary.
For long-term sustainability and greater regional and rural economic
development through the SME sector, the CCC will facilitate the
engagement of stakeholders from the public, private and banking sectors
and multilateral agencies to identify issues that need more pragmatic
and timely solutions, and make SMEs more commercially viable through
continuous improvement and innovation to its products and services.