Federation of Chambers of
Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka

Workshop on “Enhancing the Efficacy and Advocacy skills of the District Enterprise Forums (DEF)”

NEDA, FCCISL and Regional Chambers Network joined hands together to reinforce

The Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and the National Enterprise Development Authority (NEDA) jointly organized a workshop for presidents and senior officials of the regional chamber network on 15th December at the “Federation House” with the view to drawing up of a road map for enhancing the efficacy and advocacy skills of the District Enterprise Forums (DEF).

Senior Officials from the NEDA and FCCISL together with presidents of regional chambers of Matara, Galle, Nuwara Elliya, Kalutara, Sabaragamuwa, Killinochchi, Jaffna and Mulative participated in the first workshop. The Second workshop is scheduled to be held in Dambulla on 20th of this month. The FCCISL intends to cover all the 29 regional chambers on the conclusion of the program.

The FCCISL in collaboration with the Enter-Growth project of the International Labour Organization (ILO) had taken the initiative to establish DEF at District level under the leadership of the District Secretary/Government Agent in order to facilitate and promote the development of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises (MSMEs) for regional development. DEF consisted of the representatives of the District chambers, senior government officials, regional financial institutions and district level entrepreneurship and business development organizations. The objective of DEF to engage in productive dialog to address the problems encountered by the MSME sector at the regional level to find solutions and also to seek redress on problems to be solved at the national policy level.

Although DEF have being established in 16 districts since 2008 while some of the forums were working at optimal level some DEF are required to improve their operations for better coordination among the stakeholders. The objective of the workshop was to ascertain the impediments of the current system of operation and to assign responsibilities to specific agencies to improve the efficacy of DEF.

During the workshop it was reviled that the insufficient awareness of the existence and operation of the DEF among the MSMEs, inadequate representation of officials at senior levels with decision making powers, non representation of credit agencies and commercial banks in the DEF meetings, gap of communication between regional policy institutions and managers and the national level policy making institutions and insufficient resource of the regional chamber network were inter-alia hinder the optimal utilization of the current DEF.

The NEDA reconfirmed its active support for the DEF through policy coordination at regional and national level government institutions. The NEDA also confirmed the grant of modes financial assistance for holding DEF meeting and even supplementing resource for organizing regional level trade exhibitions. The working group of policy advocacy organized by the NEDA could be the national level policy platform to address MSME sector problems of policy nature processed and highlighted by the FCCISL.

The workshop also emphasized the necessity to address on priority basis avoiding the unnecessary and undue time to taken at present to make decisions by the regulatory authorities at district level in relation to SME sector operations coursing massive cost both in time and capital to the MSME sector. Many empirical evident were sited by the regional chamber representatives in this regards. A Disappointed chamber representative even suggested that it is better to inform in advance by the regulatory authorities as to how long it would take for them to take a decision on matter coming under their preview to maintain the transparency and business predictability. The workshop finally draw up a road map demarcating specific responsibilities of each organization such as FCCISL, NEDA and Regional Chamber Network with a view to seek a better working environment of DEF.

The workshop finally drawn up a road map clearly demarcating specific responsibilities of each organization such as FCCISL, NEDA and regional chamber network with a view to seek better working environment of DEF.