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Micro, SME industries worst hit due to Easter Sunday Blasts

The micro, small and medium industry sector is the worst hit due to the unfortunate incidents of April this year, said President of the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries (SLCSMI) Rohan de Silva.

He said that the Chamber appealed to the government to intervene in order to uplift the collapsing industries in the micro, small and medium industries that contribute 70% towards the national GDP and also account for nearly 40% of employment. De Silva said that even major industries such as the hotels sector, garment sector and other related sectors depended on these SMEs directly or indirectly.

The Chamber put forward the following proposals and relief measures which were suggested to the Govt. as immediate solutions that could resuscitate this sector of the industry.

Introduce a credit guarantee scheme or relax the security requirements (co-lateral).
Convert existing loan facilities taken from banks to Enterprise Sri Lanka Loan Scheme.
Extend the concessions that are granted to the Tourism Industry to these sectors of Industry at least for a limited period of 6 -12 months- grace period.
Urged the Govt. to intervene in facilitating the recommended loan schemes to the SMEs as some SMEs are weak to bargain their own dues, due to lack of knowledge and strength.

Relax the payment dates of utility bills such as telephone bills, mobile telephone bills, electricity, water etc., for SMEs.
Arrangements to make available security equipment on rent and at affordable prices to SMEs.
Arrange seminars/conferences and counselling sessions to enlighten and educate industrialists as a measure of confidence building and encouragement to continue with their industries/businesses. These proposals were recommended subsequent to a Chamber forum that was held to discuss and recommend to the authorities, the remedial measures regarding the ill effects of the Easter Sunday (21/4) tragedy. The event was attended by senior representatives of the trade and Industrial Chambers, Apparel exporters, Shippers Associations, Export Development Board, Customs Department officers and various other trade organizations.
This was as a result of the initiative taken by Malik Samaraweera, Minister of Development Strategies and International Trade (MODSIT) to request the Chamber members to build confidence and support among Sri Lanka’s International Business Partners and to help the economy to bounce back to resiliency and sustenance. While security measures and preventive steps were discussed and were being implemented by the Govt. to ensure, fast movement of imports and exports of safe cargo and to track dangerous drugs and substances from the sea ports and the airports, the financial repercussions that resulted due to the loss in production in the Industries, especially in the SMEs were colossal mainly due to the 5 hourly power cuts effected in April till the Sinhala and Tamil New Year, the intervening holidays usually granted to the employees and finally the cruel bomb blasts that followed(21/4).

The latter part of April was a mere passing of time with island wide curfews and employees not reporting to work due to transport, fear psychosis and other issues that prevailed at that time, he said.

(Daily News)

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