Rs 4.4 b for SME development | Sunday Observer

Rs 4.4 b for SME development

The 2018 Budget will focus on driving economic growth through mega development projects that will enable people to reap the benefits of development, Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera told journalists at the Ministry last week. He said this while launching the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) development loan scheme to promote entrepreneurship in the country. The loan scheme came into effect with the launch last week.

The government has allocated Rs. 4.4 billion for the scheme, aimed at encouraging young entrepreneurs to develop their enterprises and get on to exports that will support the economy.

When asked how the loan scheme would help the economy, the minister said the aim of the government was to make Sri Lanka a paradise for enterprises. Downplaying the view that the economy was showing sluggish growth throughout the year, Samaraweera referring to the positive picture presented by the IMF on the economy, said that the economic growth rate this year will be between 4.5-5 percent.

“We cannot say the economy is growing at a sluggish pace. Despite the floods and drought, the growth rate has been quite satisfactory,” the minister said.

The prices of single cabs and mini trucks have been slashed by Rs. 300,000 bringing down the price of the cab from Rs. 2,100,000 to Rs. 1,800,000 and mini trucks from Rs. 1,600,000 to Rs.1,300,000.

The ad-valorem excise duty rate of 90 percent has been scrapped for motor cycles below 150cc. The duty will be charged based on engine capacity. A substantial price reduction has been made on Japanese motorcycles under the scheme.

The 90 percent or Rs. 500 cm3 duty rate has been brought down to Rs. 500 cm3 for motorcycles less than 50cc and for motorcycles between 50cc to 150cc the duty has been slashed from 90 percent or Rs. 1,000 cm3 to Rs. 1,000 cm3.

Farmers and those in the agriculture sector could obtain a loan up to Rs. 750 million to be repaid in five years under an interest rate of 6.54 percent through the ‘Ran Aswenne’ loan scheme. The government will pay 50 percent of the loan.

A loan up to Rs. 200,000 could be obtained for completion of house construction or its expansion below 750 square feet at an interest rate of 6.54 percent. The government will provide 50 percent of the loan as relief. Media personnel could obtain an interest free loan up to Rs. 300,000 to purchase media equipment under a four-year repayment period under the Madya Aruna loan scheme. The government has allocated Rs. 25 million for the loan scheme this year. Loans upto Rs. 350,000 at a six percent interest rate for a repayment period of five years for solar power installation in homes under the ‘Rivi Balasavi’ scheme. - LF