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‘State sector red tape stifling SMEs’



(L to R) Colin Fernando, Prof. Rohan de Silva, Mohideen Cader and Chaminda Kumarasiri Pic by Kamal Bogoda

By Steve A. Morrell

The SME sector, contributing $ 48 billion to the GDP, is stifled by government red tape. SME entrepreneurs and industrialists who wish to commence ventures have to often be in waiting for years before such projects are approved by relevant government bodies.

Some give up in disgust after suffering irretrievable losses because of being shunted from one desk to the other, to have their projects approved. Additionally,  rampant corruption compounds the  frustration such entrepreneurs have to endure if and when their projects are approved for implementation.

The above disquieting findings were revealed recently at a press conference convened by the Sri Lanka Chamber of Small and Medium Industries.

The head table included president of the Chamber, Prof. Rohan de Silva, Immediate Past President Mohideen Cader, Management Consultant, Chaminda Kumarasiri and Senior Vice President Colin Fernando.

Prof. de Silva introducing the subject to be discussed said the Chamber was 57 years in existence, having commenced in1953. He said the SME sector contributes 60 percent  to the  revenue of the country. The Chamber works with any government and cooperates with the state to promote the interests of the SME sector.

De Silva said the Chamber was a non profit organization and adhered to its motto, ‘Be Sri Lankan, Buy Sri Lankan’. He expressed his thanks to Minister Wimal Weerawansa who granted the Chamber an interview within two days of assuming office to discuss matters  that require the minister’s intervention.

Management Consultant Chaminda Kumarasiri said there were three serious  matters that require official attention. Red tape, cash flow and collateral. Red tape was the most frustrating factor when seeking sanction for a project.

Quite often, because of these frustrations an entrepreneur would abandon a project, often ending in penury. His jeopardized cash flow also obstructed an entrepreneur’s progress. Banks were reluctant to lend, considering the interminable papers that had to be completed before such projects even got started.

Of importance was also the fact that when state personnel changed, policies also changed, resulting in lack of continuity.  Such changes caused confusion to small holders who were usually of rural origin.

Vice President Colin Fernando said although the corona pandemic caused restrictions to entrepreneurs, official support was imperative if the sector was to contribute to the economy. He said China’s progress from a backward country to that of a world economic power was instructive. Chinese policies if applied in the Sri Lankan context could prove effective.

Immediate Past President Mohideen Cader confirmed government support was an immediate necessity and said the Chamber was now a fully contributory entity to the government’s export business. The Chamber was responsible for  continuous progress of the SME sector and cannot be ignored.

He added that entrepreneurs of the North of the country who were saddled with serious odds also required official support.



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LOLC Al-Falaah unveils pioneering Wadi’ah Gold-Storage Facility with multiple customer benefits



Sri Lanka’s most awarded and trusted Alternate Financial services brand, LOLC Al-Falaah recently unveiled their ground-breaking new product – the Wadi’ah Gold Loan Facility. This is the 1st time a Finance company in Sri Lanka is offering this facility. Al-Falaah Wadi’ah is a unique gold storage option offered to Al-Falaah’s valued customer base. All gold articles are tested for quality and authenticity using state-of-the art equipment by the company’s experienced staff without causing any damage to the jewellery. A unique ‘Gold Storage Certificate’ with the description of articles, including weight, quality and quantity along with the market value will be issued to the customer when obtaining this facility.

Speaking about the new product, Mr. Shiraz Refai, Deputy General Manager of LOLC Al-Falaah said, “Gold is a favourite investment option at all levels within the concentrated community. The metal is usually pawned, sold or exchanged when in need of cash. As the conventional Pawning options and Gold Loan offering has limitations to cater to the specific needs, as well as contradict with certain beliefs of the community, a concept acceptable and practiced in the industry is introduced by LOLC’s Alternate Financial Services Unit to its valued customer segment”.

Accordingly, a unique feature has been introduced to the Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold Storage facility offering the Customer the benefit of obtaining an interest-free maximum Cash-Advance in the industry at zero mark-up against the gold storage certificate value for any emergencies. In addition, for the convenience of the customers, the Gold storage facility period is extended from 3, 6 and 12 months without any requirement for a deposit and the custodial fees are comparatively competitive. The stored gold articles will also be offered a free Takaful cover with a reassurance of highest safety and security.

The Al-Falaah Wadi’ah gold storage facility will be initially available at selected branches including Wellawatta, Akkaraipattu, Kalmunai, Pottuvil, Grandpass, Maradana, Mawanella, Matara, Nawalapitiya and Negombo. Al-Falaah aims to make the facility available across all LOLC Finance branches and dedicated Al-Falaah centers island-wide by the end of the 1st quarter of 2021.

Commenting on the new Al-Falaah Wadi’ah Gold loan facility, Nishantha Jayasekera, Chief Manager, SME Unit & Head of Gold Loan Business of LOLC Finance said, “The main aim of this facility is to give financial-access to the grass-root level clients who do not have direct access to banking & finance, but require small cash advances to develop daily businesses and self-employment. Through this product and its value added features, we hope to cover all segments of the population”.

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LANKATILES donates high-end ventilator to Colombo North Teaching Hospital



A Rs. 4.3 million ventilator has been donated to the Coronary Care Unit of the Colombo North Teaching Hospital, Ragama, by LANKATILES, the country’s leading tile manufacturer.

The machine was described as a high-end, world-class piece of equipment suitable for all patient groups.

Present at the official hand-over were Mr Mahendra Jayasekera, Managing Director of Lanka Walltiles PLC and Lanka Tiles PLC, Dr. S. P. A. Liyanage Ranaweera, Director of Colombo North Teaching Hospital, and Dr. Sanjeewa Rajapakse, Consultant Cardiologist of the hospital.

At a time when state-of-the-art equipment is urgently needed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, LANKATILES reaffirmed its commitment to help frontline hospital staff in their efforts at reducing the spread of the virus and easing patient numbers.

The company said this was a commitment it is ready to stand by at all times in the interests of the country.



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Sampath Bank hosts Central Bank’s ‘MatarataQR’ event to promote QR code use



Matara, April 3rd, 2021: Sampath Bank PLC recently hosted the Central Bank of Sri Lanka’s (CBSL) MatarataQR event, in a bid to drive awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.

Encouraging consumers to adopt the use of QR codes in their day-to-day transactions, the event was held at the Sanath Jayasuriya Grounds in Matara under the patronage of the Chief Guest, Dullas Alahapperuma, Minister of Power and Guest of Honour, D. Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; along with senior officials from the CBSL, other commercial banks and financial institutions. Sampath Bank was represented by Nanda Fernando – Managing Director; Tharaka Ranwala – Senior DGM – Operations / Group Chief Marketing Officer and Ajith Salgado – Group Chief Information Officer.

At the event, the Bank actively promoted its ‘WePay’ mobile wallet which helped attract more customers while also onboarding new merchants. A 25% cash back was on offer for payments at over 200 merchants in Matara on the day, made via the LANKAQR enabled WePay digital mobile payment app.

“We are very proud to partner with the Central Bank to host this event that will highlight the safety, convenience and speed of getting onboard the LANKAQR payment standard to the people of Matara. These benefits, coupled with the advanced digital banking solutions offered by Sampath Bank, make it a simple choice to migrate to digital payment technology and we warmly invite the merchants in Matara to come experience the benefits of adopting this new method of payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC.

Sampath Bank is a 100% local bank that has deeply rooted itself in the lives of the people of Sri Lanka. Established in 1987, the bank has become a state-of-the-art financial institution that continues to be a market leader today thanks to its constant innovation and customer focused approach to business. It has introduced many firsts to the Sri Lankan banking sector including introducing ATMs to Sri Lanka, extended banking hours and slip-less banking to name a few. The Bank is steadily transforming itself into a ‘tech company engaged in banking,’ from the traditional approach of a bank engaged in technology.

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