Time to revive entrepreneurial potential of Sri Lankans says Finance Minister

Minister of Finance and Mass Media says that the time has come to revive the entrepreneurial potential of Sri Lankans from the past and the government is in the process of providing all facilities to people to take the initiative.

The Minister made this observation participating in the Matara District program of the series of programs organized by the Sri Lanka Export Development Board (SLEDB) to create 2000 new entrepreneurs held on last Friday (11th) in Matara. Expressing his views at the program, the Minister recalled that from the past, Sri Lanka was a trading hub.

"When we visit the museum, we can see how much contacts Sri Lanka then had with the developed nations. In order to take Sri Lanka for success we need to raise our entrepreneurial potential we had in our genes in the past and today as well," he said.

He said the government is fully committed to give the opportunity to the people to revive their entrepreneurial skills and a new loan schemes for entrepreneurs will be started from the first week of June. Under the new scheme, loans will be provided for a number of projects at a lower interest rate than the current rates.

'I have already discussed with the Central Bank about the possibility of reducing the existing interest rate to around 2%," the Minister said. Minister Samaraweera noted that the loans are now given by banks by looking at the credibility and strength of the guarantors. However, if a young entrepreneur applies a loan for a fruitful project, the loan should be given either considering the value of the project or the advantage of the project to the country and not on the guarantors' capability or skills, the Minister said.

"Therefore, we will open up a separate counter for entrepreneurs in every bank of the country under the Enterprise Sri Lanka Program, which we have proposed in the budget," he added. "Similarly, we will take measures to exempt the interest on loans under Rs. 150,000 with high interest rates provided to people, especially the poor in the North and East by the micro finance companies," Minister Samaraweera said.

The Minister noting that the country recorded highest exports in the history in 2017 said looking at the exports so far in 2018 he is optimistic that the record will be broken this year. "We expect 34 percent income from exports by 2025 but when we look at this journey, it seems that we can reach that target sooner," he said.

 Ministers Malik Samarawickrama, Sagala Ratnayake and Sujeewa Senasinghe and a large number of businessmen in the area attended the event