Empowering SMEs | Sunday Observer

Empowering SMEs

The Securities and Exchange Commission of Sri Lanka (SEC) together with the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) has announced the launch of “Empower” - the SME Board, to attract Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to the CSE.

Under a programme to launch a series of new Capital Market Development Initiatives proposed by the new SEC Chairman, Ranel T Wijesinha, the launch will for the first time in the history of the country and the history of the SEC and CSE, establish a dedicated platform for the SMEs.

“In essence what we wish to achieve can be summarised by the theme: ‘Empowering Entrepreneurship, Making the Capital Market work for the SMEs,’ Chairman SEC, Wijesinha said.

“Sri Lanka, has achieved considerable progress in many areas, within a South Asian context, but it is yet an Emerging Economy in the larger Asia Pacific region, within which it can be a truly formidable player. We have yet to realise our full potential and we have been saying this for too long. But growth must be balanced, growth must be honest and wholesome and most importantly, sustainable.” Wijesinha said.

“If we are to achieve economic growth with equity, across the length and breadth of the country, with balance in economic development and employment, between the city and the rural village, between agriculture, industry and services, between representatives of religions and communities, there is a compelling national imperative the country has to address,” Wijesinha said.

“That national imperative is to usher in an economically strong, politically stable, socially responsive, Sri Lanka. Within that context, there is an imperative, that we develop the SMEs.We transitioned from a closed and insular country, to an open and outward looking country with an export led growth strategy in 1977 - 41 years ago. Yet, the SME sector has not achieved the level of growth so vitally necessary for this yet emerging economy,” he said.

“This requires all components of the banking and financial infrastructure of the country, to recognise this. However, we have to understand the challenges the Central Bank faces to maintain price stability, said Wijesinha.

“The rates of interest on bank loans in Sri Lanka at this time, are relatively high, and may not adequately encourage entrepreneurship,” he said.