Federation of Chambers of
Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka

The 4th FCCISL Key Person Forum headed by Minister Amunugama took its wings in Galle on Monday, this week

The fourth session of the KPF series in 2013 held on 17th December in Galle. The forum was headed by Hon. Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Minister of International Monetary Co-operation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning. The forum organized by the Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Sri Lanka (FCCISL) and the Galle District Chamber of Commerce and Industries was themed on “Investment Opportunity and Incentives available for entrepreneurs in the Southern Region”. The Asia Foundation under its Local Economic Governance Program, which is funded by the Australian International Agency for Development (AusAID) is supporting to bring KPF in to the regions.

Mr. Kumar Mallimaratchi, President, FCCISL welcomed the Chief Guest Hon. Dr. Sarath Amunugama, Minister of International Monetary Co-operation and Deputy Minister of Finance and Planning, members of Galle Chamber and participants.   Delivering his brief welcome, Mr. Mallimaratchi stated “We are glad to have Dr. Amunugama who is one of the top civil servants and an eminent political personality in the country, as our Key Person today. Our entrepreneurs who do well not only could win Sri Lanka but need to keep in mind on global perspectives when they are expanding. All the forums we had in previous year confined to Colombo. We felt that it is the appropriate time to get these forums in to regions and allow a dialogue between key policy makers and the business community. All the forums had in outside of the Colombo were very successful and I hope that you make use of this opportunity. Hon. Minister can explain latest developments, new trends, trade and investment policies and many. Please utilize this opportunity to clear your queries with regard to the business and these subject areas”.

Mr. Nalin Attygalle, CEO/SG of the FCCISL who was the moderator of the forum mentioned few words about the programme and how it is been realized. He said, “FCCISL gone all around the country reaching the entrepreneurs in entire Sri Lanka and found the real spirit of Sri Lankan entrepreneurship through the Sri Lankan Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2012. Sometimes we used to talk what we have been doing all the times, but this is a great occasion to discuss current scenarios of the businesses and national economy and build confidence of the SMEs, giving them the opportunity to voice in a common platform with key policy makers and eminent persons in responsible with expertise knowledge and decision making powers. Today’s Key Person Forum is enriched by such a knowledgeable, experience politician plus a civil servant. Next session of the Key Person Forum will be held in Kandy”.

Minister addressing the forum stated, “I must tell you that all around the world, countries face lot of issues, gloomy picture remains in the global economy. Comparatively Asian countries, especially in China and India are in better situation. China is becoming the superior economy and India is securing its path. The main facet of the India and China economy is it is based on production and exporting to EU countries. The cost of labour is 3:1 in India and Western. Since the western heavily invest in China, now the western countries find difficults to continue the same approach. Today India’s domestic market worth more than 400$ million and china more than that. They can still carry on catering to the domestic customers.

Comparing to those countries still Sri Lanka is in a better position, why, the war has ended by defeating terrorism and a new era has begun. The opportunities are arising and now return on investment is more predictable”.

The Minister also said that the current per capita income is 2400$ and plans are drawn by the Ministry of Finance to increase it to 4500$ by 2015. The south is very famous for its entrepreneurial men and women. 35% of the national economy is depending on the SME sector. China’s development cure was drawn by the Deshaon. They had the plans of transforming their SMEs to millionaires. They are the backbone of the country and you have to get rid of from the “mudalali” mentality. You have to position yourselves as the main source of the national economy.

“If you look at the investemnet a government can afford on offering jobs, is limited. Now the government is trying to merge new graduate appointments with programmes like Divi Neguma , in order to contribute for the development of the national economy. He also said the private sector can offer more jobs than the government and the ration of producing jobs between the private and public sector is 4:1. If the coutry needs to be developed, the private secor need to empowered and the govermnet needs to support it.

As entrepernuers you need to look at what are your comparative advantages. Always look at avenues how you can differenciate yourself from the other competitors and serve what others cant and serve it better”.

He also said that the banks are requested to provide more services to facilitate SMEs instead of spending for purchasing luxury items. This was adversely effected to the economy and the import and export deficiency also gone up, where the ratio lies 3:1. So Banks need to provide more and better service to the SMEs than in the past.

During the discussions following points were highlighted.

  1. Redtapes – One hotelier, from Galle said that he is engaged in constructing a hotel project in Unwattuna. He faces lot of problems with regard to the electricity when he tries to get the 16 amp connection. Though he followed all the procedures required for approvals that alone took one year.
  2. Even a small approval to change an address in the water bill of a business makes difficult according to one participant from Cruystal Pharmacy , Galle. He said as this particular officer is holding it for no reason and he can’t launch his new business venture with Baurs.  While the minister accept that those bureaucratic behavior prevail in provincial councils and even central governmental bodies. The Galle Mayor attended to this issue immediately.
  3. Trained and skilled staff migrating to the urban areas and abroad – It is also said that hoteliers find difficult to recruit and retain trained and skilled staff as they migrate.
  4. Savubhagya Loan Scheme – The Minister had a discussion with one representative from the Commercial bank. It was told that the Savubhagya scheme is available but the priority is given for the Uva and Sabaragamuwa Provinces. When an applicant is receiving a loan applied under the Savubhagya loan, he has to pay an interst of 18% until he receive the approval from the Central Bank. With the concern of priority for particular provinces, the Minister suggested introducing a quota system.
  5. Banks to be flexible and find solutions for practical issues – One participant, who is engaged in travel and tourism, suggested that he can save lot of interest he pays occurred due the different calculation done by IATA and the banks when it’s come to defining the financial year. He requested from banks to be flexible and find solutions to these types of issues.
  6. Issue of overdraft, Construction Industry – This was raised as contractors are not getting their payments from the government on time.
  7. Small Tea Holders – The Small Tea Factory Owners raised an issue that they get their payments after about one and half months from the auction. But they have to make the payments once they purchase the tea. He was asked by the Minister to present a letter to the minister through the Galle Chamber.