Sri Lanka will launch the ambitious Rs. 60 billion ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ programme on 21st of this month aiming to groom 100,000 entrepreneurs by 2020 through 16 concessional loan schemes with additional incentives provided to encourage female entrepreneurship.
Addressing an educational workshop for State banking professionals last week on the Enterprise Sri Lanka programme, the Minister of Finance and Mass Media, Mangala Samaraweera said that the government has already allocated a sum of Rs. 5.25 billion and ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ is ready to be launched under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister, Ranil Wickremesinghe at the Bandaranaike Memorial International Conference Hall (BMICH) on the 21st.
“Our aim is to create a minimum of 100,000 new entrepreneurs within the next two years, not just from the cities but also from all parts of the country,” Samaraweera stressed.
While emphasising that females are capable of holding more responsibilities than males, the Minister announced that for businesses which employ over ten people and the majority of them were women, a further 10 percent would be added to the interest rates concession, while the disabled would also receive the same allowance. Samaraweera reiterated that the government expected a transformational change in the economy in a short period of time with the launch of this programme.
The 16 loan schemes consist of 11 interest subsidy loan schemes, 3 refinancing loan schemes inclusive of 2 financial and non‑financial schemes.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the programme will be implemented by the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media in collaboration with State and private banks, foreign financial institutions and the other participatory institutes.
Samaraweera also recently secured Cabinet approval for the proposal to establish a new Secretariat in the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media to coordinate the ‘Enterprise Sri Lanka’ loan scheme coordination.
He emphasised that the country required a conducive environment with fair and equal opportunities for the budding local entrepreneurs to contribute to the country’s development. However, he pointed out that the country’s banking system has failed to create a such an environment for businesses.
“We urge bank officers to give prominence to these new entrepreneurs. These new entrepreneurs may not have any experience with banks. If they were ignored they may leave, disappointed. Therefore a special window for the Enterprise Sri Lanka Programme should be set up at all branches of People’s Bank, Bank of Ceylon and Regional Development Banks. People who have the knowledge of the loan system should be used to handle these windows,” he said.
According to Samaraweera, there are around 150,000 skilled, unemployed labourers in the country who fall victim to extremist politics, drugs and illegal activities etc.
“Our responsibility is to identify the persons who have entrepreneurial skills not only among the university graduates but also from those who passed GCE O/L and A/L examinations. We have to set up a system for those who did not get into the universities, and make them contribute to the country’s development. The Enterprise Sri Lanka programme is all about that,” the Minister elaborated.
State Minister of Finance Eran Wickramaratne, Minister of Public Enterprise and Kandy City Development Lakshman Kiriella and Secretary to the Ministry of Finance and Mass Media Dr. R.H.S. Samaratunga also participated at the event. (NF)