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Sri Lanka SME policy work takes off within a short time of national launch

Jan 12, 2018 7:37:30 AM - thesundayleader.lk

Implementation of Sri Lanka’s first national SME strategy began today, January 12 as the government moved a top global private advisory firm to lead the process.

Interestingly, the implementation of Lankan SME policy is starting – with a huge Rs 3.8 Mn pilot project – in a very short time from its initial national launch last year - within five months to be exact.

“The government of Sri Lanka has assigned high priority to the development and strengthening of SME sector to be a sustainable sector of the country’s economy and to link to global markets,” said the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishad Bathiudeen, addressing the launch of Sri Lanka ‘Enabling Environment -SME Legal & Institutional Assessment’ session by his Ministry of Industry & Commerce and the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA).

NEDA has signed an MoU with EY Advisory Services – a member firm of Ernst & Young Global Limited, a global leader in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services-on this occasion as a preparatory step for implementation work of national SME policy launched by his Ministry last year with Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinge.

Sri Lanka EY Advisory Services has retained Colombo’s law firm F. J. & G. de Saram for mapping of legal environment related to Lankan SMEs. GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit) in Sri Lanka is the generous funder of this three-month long SME policy implementation start furnishing a huge SL Rs 3.8 million.

“We thank GIZ Sri Lanka for supporting our SME sector in this initiative with their huge funding. There are a little more than one million registered SMEs and MSMEs in Sri Lanka. Each provides employment to three people on average especially in rural areas. We believe that SMEs are more than 70% of the total number of enterprises in the economy providing 45% of the employment and contributing to 52% of the Gross Domestic Production (GDP).

“With the increasing trend of globalization the SME sector has become a driving force for ‘growth and development’. As a result the Government of Sri Lanka has assigned high priority to the development and strengthening of SME sector to be a sustainable sector of the Country’s economy and to link to global markets,” said Minister Bathiudeen.

He also said, “To achieve this goal, the national SME Policy framework, its action plan and assigning responsibilities are important steps. You may be aware that the National Policy Framework for SME Development was launched by Hon Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe last year and the Implementation of Action Plan for the National Policy Framework was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers in last year.”

Minister Bathiudeen also noted that the SME Development Action Plan is expected to achieve the defined objectives in the SME policy framework. “It is based on six policy intervention strategies articulated in the policy framework and Enabling Environment is one main area to be addressed to improve the legislative regulatory and institutional framework. This also involves proper coordination simplification and rationalization of procedures for SME development. Accordingly Ministry of Industry and Commerce and National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) with the generous support of GIZ have worked hand in hand to select a qualified and suitable consultant and it has been awarded to M/s Earnest & Young Advisory Services to undertake the study on enabling environment particularly evaluation of legal environment and institutional framework,” added the Minister.

Partner of EY Advisory Services Arjuna Herath said that EY is proud to partner in this national initiative. “EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transactions and advisory services. Locally, we are committed to doing our part in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities. We believe there is a need to boost Sri Lankan SME sector in a qualitative way and this is a major step in this direction.”

The national SME policy was launched by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe exactly five months ago on September 13 at Makandura Industrial Zone of the Ministry of Industry and Commerce.

The pioneering policy is now available for download at NEDA’s web portalwww.neda.gov.lk