Bank for development finance on the cards – PM

The government would soon set up a special Bank for Development Finance to assist the business community, said Prime Minister Ranil Wicrkaramasinghe.

Speaking at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Sri Lanka Confectionery Manufacturers’ Association at Colombo Hilton last Tuesday night he said the prime objective of this is to assist the business community by offering them credit under more flexible terms.

The Premier also said that he still remembers the beginning of the confectionery industry of Sri Lanka and the shift from Huntley and Farmers, Cadbury and Nestle confectionery exports era to people shifting to local products.

“I endorse the view of Special Assignment Minister Dr Sarath Amunugama that the birth of the local confectionery era began when imports were banned under the closed economy period from 1971 to 1977.I must also say that though there are confectionery imports of around 20%, Sri Lankans still prefer to use local products since their quality are of very high standard. This is why global companies like Wall’s Ice Cream and Cadbury failed in Sri Lanka.”

Wickramasinghe also recalled that when both the local confectionery and apparel industry were started how former Finance Minister, Ronnie De Mel branded the apparel industry as Jangi (pants) and people called the confectionery industry as ‘Seeni Bola.’

“However people like Munchee, Maliban and Upali Wijewardene, (Delta) stood against all odds and started the local construction industry and today both these industries have matured as major export industries reaching out to over 55 countries.

He appealed to the confectionery giants in Sri Lanka to assist the small timers who too are talented but need guidance. Referring to timely requests made by the Confectionery Manufacturers’ Association Chairperson Shanaz Hakeem, the PM said that the government will address these issues.

“Yes some of them were proposed at the last budget and we will soon implement them. We will also bring in the Anti Dumping Bill soon.”

After explaining the Sri Lanka debt repayment scenario the Premier said that the Rs three trillion debt would be settled soon and then the government would offer more concessions. “We also need to find Rs 600 billion for development and there are also balance of payments and other issues to settle.”

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