More support for Sri Lankan small firms

ECONOMYNEXT – Government support for Sri Lankan businesses is being refocused from big companies to small firms which make up the majority of private enterprises, an official said. 

Large enterprises make up only a fraction of businesses in the island but have been getting most of government support, said Sunil Jayantha Navarathna, an advisor to the ministry of commerce and industry. 

Sri Lanka has just over a million enterprises of which 92 percent are micro-enterprises employing just one or two people.

There are 71,126 small firms and about 10,400 medium-sized enterprises accounting for about eight percent of total firms.

“There are 2,414 large firms – just 0.23 percent of the total – and these are the organisations running the whole country and the government also is giving support to them,” Navarathna told a forum for SMEs and research institutions on collaborative research.

But the new government’s policy is to give more focus on small and medium enterprises.

“The government has decided that SMEs are key in economic growth,” Navarathna said.

Over 62 percent of firms – 637,000 – are single-person enterprises, he told the forum held by the National Enterprise Development Authority, Coordinating Secretariat for Science Technology and Innovation and the Asian Development Bank Institute.

Less than one percent of Sri Lankan firms employ over 50 people.

“This shows that in Sri Lanka enterprises are very small though we say that the private sector is the engine of growth,” said Navarathna, chairman and Director General of the National Enterprise Development Authority.

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“Our engine is not very powerful – it’s like a motorcycle engine. We have to make it strong,” he said.

“The Board of Investment is there to look after big companies. NEDA is for small firms. The total eco-system has to be revamped and rejuvenated.”
(Colombo/December 28, 2015)
 

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