As all sections of the business community are leaving no routes unexplored to ensure they stay afloat, the vulnerable small and medium enterprises (SMEs) must not be left behind, asserted President Ranil Wickremesinghe.
All stakeholders of the economy are on the lookout for solutions to help brave through the ongoing economic crisis that has left all sections affected and it is the role of the more prominent establishments to help the SME sector to sustain itself.
“I think the state and private sector, the big players, medium players, all have to see how we can save our small and medium enterprises.
There are the larger ones too but these are the ones that can get wiped out. Can we go on without them?” said Wickremesinghe addressing the business leaders at the Sri Lanka Economic Summit held earlier this week.
He pointed out that the success of the open economy was that a large number of SMEs came along.
“People made their way. They came up to the middle class; they went beyond that. Some became billionaires.
However, that is how the system works. Now, what am I going to do with it? We have to resolve these issues as we go along,” he added. Reflecting similar sentiments, Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) Chairman Vish Govindaswamy highlighted that it is of great concern the plight of SMEs.
The next 24 months will be “extremely” challenging for the SMEs, he said. “We, the corporate sector and government must step forward and assist them to survive. The collapse of the SME will be irreparable,” cautioned Govindaswamy.
Sri Lanka is at a crucial point in its economic development trajectory. There are difficult decisions to be made, where the steps taken now by the government and private sector would determine how we emerge from our current challenges, told Govindaswamy to the packed audience.
While asserting the need to complement the tax reforms with other structural reforms related to trade, investment, cost-recovery pricing and ease of doing business, Govindaswamy stressed it must be acknowledged that the historical delay in implementing these reforms has led to the current economic crisis. Further, Sri Lanka can also not ignore the critical importance of eliminating corruption, as it is a malaise that can spread through the country, critically affecting the fundamentals of good governance – both in public and corporate sectors. “In eliminating corruption, we must make a concerted, honest effort to ensure the rigorous, impartial application of the laws and regulations that have been put in place for this purpose, through strong institutions and processes, for both the public and private sectors,” he said.