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MSMEs urged Govt to seek ADB grant to offset their Rs 1.1 trillion bank loans

By: Staff Writer

March 14, Colombo (LNW): The country’s Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) yesterday commended President Ranil Wickremesinghe for temporarily suspending the Parate executions till 15 December but insisted their plight persists hence need continuous support.

At a media briefing the Sri Lanka United National Businesses Alliance (SLUNBA) Vice Chairman Susantha Liyanaarachchi yesterday conveyed the industry’s appreciation to President Ranil Wickremesinghe for the measures taken to suspend the enforcement of parate executions under the Recovery of Loans by Banks (Special Provisions) Act No.4 of 1990 till 15 December 2024.

Additionally, Liyanaarachchi highlighted that SMEs have only obtained Rs. 1100 billion in loans from banks. He requested the Government to secure this amount as a grant from institutions like the ADB and allow SMEs to repay the loan at a low interest rate

Liyanaarachchi indicated that the expression of appreciation followed the publication of the draft bill in the Government Gazette, signalling its imminent tabling in Parliament for approval and provided the reassurance that the proposed measure will indeed proceed.

The country cannot progress without the contribution of SMEs to its Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Countries like India, China, and Singapore have implemented strategies to empower businesses through the banking system.

However, successive governments in Sri Lanka have neglected the country›s SME sector until now, he remarked.

Liyanarachchi criticised the Government for concentrating solely on large corporations and fostering an environment that favours their operations exclusively. This is precisely why we had to voice our concerns and strive for this victory, he emphasised.

Despite the temporary relief, Liyanaarachchi emphasised the importance of formulating a procedure through which industries can contribute to the country’s development. He stated that they will submit their own proposals to the Government regarding this matter.

He also urged the Government to provide the industry with briefings on Government plans for transitioning to a manufacturing-based economy.

Additionally, Liyanaarachchi highlighted that SMEs have only obtained Rs. 1100 billion in loans from banks. He requested the Government to secure this amount as a grant from institutions like the ADB and allow SMEs to repay the loan at a low interest rate.

When questioned by the media about the potential misuse of the suspension of Parate Executions by those deliberately evading loan repayments, SLUNBA Chairperson Tania Abeysundara refuted any suggestion that SMEs have been shirking their debt obligations.

Those who have defaulted on their loans are typically not individuals who borrowed from private banks, as they cannot easily evade repayment obligations due to their listing in the CRIB. Once listed, securing another loan becomes nearly impossible, she said.

Abeysundara further alleged that the majority of defaulters are individuals who obtained loans from State banks based on personal connections. These loans are granted primarily on personal affiliations, and the borrowers are unconcerned about being listed in the CRIB as State banks continue to provide them with loans regardless, she alleged.

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