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Sunday, 28 September 2014





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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 country.

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.


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