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MSMEs calls on the govt to support struggling businesses for survival

By: Staff Writer

June 10, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka’s economy is projected to see moderate growth of 2.2% in 2024, showing signs of stabilization, following the severe economic downturn of 2022.

 But, the country’s MSMEs representing over 75% of all businesses, account for 45% of employment and contribute 52% to the GDP is gappling to survice as they were badly git by economic crisis in 2022.

Representing the micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), the Sri Lanka United Business Alliance last week called on the Government to develop a comprehensive plan to promote entrepreneurship and tackle the challenges facing businesses in the current economic climate.

Speaking to the media, the small business leaders’ underscored the need for a cohesive strategy to encourage entrepreneurship, improve digital infrastructure and support struggling businesses to ensure sustainable economic growth.

Sri Lanka United Business Alliance Chairperson Tania Abeysundara voiced concerns over the lack of support for entrepreneurs. “We, the entrepreneurs, have become economic victims. There is no world beyond the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for the Government now.

The IMF was essential to prevent the country from going bankrupt, but if it saved the economy, the President must create plans to promote entrepreneurship. Instead, the Government is only making plans that stifle the entrepreneur,” she stated.

Sri Lanka Shippers Council (SLSC) Chairman Sean Van Dort highlighted the difficulties importers and exporters face due to the reluctance to fully embrace digital solutions.

He noted that during the COVID-19 pandemic, operations at Customs, Ports, and Airports were digitised, which allowed for smooth operations. However, post-pandemic, there has been a reversion to manual checks, leading to inefficiencies and corruption.

“We have to bow to these officers who don’t care about the country’s welfare but are more focused on personal gains,” Van Dort claimed.

He also alleged that the Board of Investment (BoI) verification office demands bribes and that Customs and Ports Authority are involved in undervaluation deals that deprive the Government of revenue.

Against this backdrop, Van Dort called on the Government to demonstrate strong political will and commitment to achieving 100% digitalisation, insisting on the need for a paperless environment to boost trade and competitiveness.

Footwear and Leather Industry Association President Buddhika Wimalasiri criticised the lack of support for industries amidst high electricity tariffs.

Wimalasiri also pointed out the thriving banking sector’s failure to support struggling industries, questioning the Central Bank’s regulatory role.

 Small and Medium Enterprises Federation former Secretary Janaki Amarasinghe highlighted the plight of enterprises and individuals blacklisted by the Credit Information Bureau (CRIB).

 “Those blacklisted by the CRIB are trapped in severe financial difficulties and it is truly shameful that none of the organisations are offering any support,” she said.

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