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Sunday, 30 April 2006    
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Second phase of UNIDO program launched

by Surekha Galagoda

The second phase of the UNIDO Integrated Industrial Development Support Program with an investment of US$ 10 million was launched in Colombo.

The program components include cluster and networking development, trade capacity building, promotion of agricultural technologies, leather industry development, resource based rural energy, supply chain management, industrial revival and income generation in the North and East and reconstruction support for SMEs in tsunami affected areas.

Officer-in-Charge Trade Capacity Building Branch UNIDO Vienna Dr. Lalith Goonatilake said that phase two of the program was signed in October last year based on the success of phase one of the program and supports the government's policy of Mahinda Chinthana which includes poverty alleviation, taking industries to the villages, providing employment to the educated youth and giving priority to agro based industries.

The priority sectors of the program are rubber, coir, ceramics and cinnamon.

He said phase one of the program launched in 1999 ended in 2005 with an investment of US$6.5 million.

Minister of Industrial Development Kumara Welgama said that phase two of the program is in line with the rural industrialisation policy of the President's Mahinda Chinthana which hopes to eliminate poverty by taking the industries to the villages and providing employment.

Science and Technology Minister Tissa Vitharana said that they plan to open resource centres in all 323 Divisional Secretariat divisions.

These resource centres will be linked to scientific centres and the Internet.

Already 93 divisional secretariat divisions have resource centres which are linked. The centres will provide free computer training to bridge the digital divide. He hoped that the SME bank will provide the funds needed by the SMEs as the lack of funds is a major drawback faced by the Small and Medium entrepreneurs.

Minister Vitharana said that the Act to set up the Sri Lanka Accreditation Board has been passed in Parliament and we are now in the process of establishing it.

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