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    Ambitious programs to revive private investment and boost rural economy

    June 03, 2018

    The Sri Lankan government this month will launch several ambitious programs to drive the country's future growth by stimulating private investment and boosting the rural economy. Sri Lanka's Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera revealed that as a near term economic activity the government has designed a multi-pronged strategy and 'Enterprise Sri Lanka', a loan scheme to stimulate private investment in small and medium enterprises or even large businesses is a one key component of this strategy.

    "Our new approach avoids short term consumption booms through artificial fiscal and monetary stimulus. Instead the Enterprise Sri Lanka loan schemes focus on targeting credit on concessionary terms to drive investment domestically, which will generate growth today and in the future," the Finance Minister said addressing a business forum held to introduce the programs on Wednesday.

    The Enterprise Sri Lanka scheme offers attractive concessionary financing to stimulate investment and expansion by entrepreneurs, SMEs, and even large business. On 22nd June 2018, President Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe will ceremonially launch the Enterprise Sri Lanka loan schemes at the BMICH.

    According to the Finance Minister, these schemes will target the most productive investment sectors. It is private enterprise that is created and expanded through these programs which will drive Sri Lanka's future growth, he said. "Stimulating such domestic private investment will create jobs, innovation, and will enable economic expansion across the economy," the Minister said. "This will no doubt result in multiplier effects which will create dynamism for the value chains that your companies operate in as well," he told the business community.

    In addition to the revival of private investment driven by Enterprise Sri Lanka, it is necessary for the state to invest directly in the rural economy, Minister Samaraweera said adding that towards this end, the government will also be introducing the rapid rural infrastructure investment scheme, GAMPERALIYA.

    Gamperaliya program will include the rehabilitation of over 22,000 rural tanks which will have a major impact on agricultural productivity and agricultural incomes that have suffered during the previous droughts. A "Haritha Udyanaya" or a "Green Park" will bring the ancient Athenian concept of nourishing one's body, mind and soul to the village. Wi-Fi enabled Haritha Udyanaya will have a building with a library, gymnasium for the young and old, men, women and a roof-garden for meditation, Yoga and other religious spiritual activities. Places of worship in the village will be repaired and the village schools will get playgrounds.

    The government will also invest in the development of rural roads, rural markets, and other public works worth of Rs. 80 billion. These measures will collectively inject more cash into the rural economy which will help improve economic activity and kick start broader consumption across the country in a sustainable manner.The Gamperaliya scheme will be the primary focus of the government's economic agenda over the next 24 months. The first Gamperaliya exhibition will be organized in Monaragala on 16th August 2018, followed by Anuradhapura and Jaffna.

    The government is planning a series of exhibitions across the country to take the message of Enterprise Sri Lanka and Gamperaliya to the people. Minister Samaraweera commented that whilst Sri Lanka's pre-colonial past was one of, robust global trade and entrepreneurial engagement, in recent decades the country has retreated into a protectionist, neo-socialist mind-set.

    "Our people have become accustomed to waiting for government jobs and handouts whilst entrepreneurship has been relegated," he said adding that the proposed exhibitions will create a platform to change this mind-set. Along with introducing the loan schemes and their features, the Enterprise Sri Lanka exhibitions will provide a platform for guidance, training, and mentorship for potential entrepreneurs. It will create opportunity to connect their business ideas with markets and larger companies in the ecosystem.

    "The government must take the lead in driving this change in mind-set to enable Sri Lankans to take their economic destiny into their own hands. We must work together to rekindle the spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation that thrived in the hearts of our ancient forefathers. The Enterprise Sri Lanka and Gamperaliya Exhibitions will lead the way in taking this message to the people," the Minister said requesting the support and commitment of the business community for the venture for the betterment of Sri Lanka and all Sri Lankans.

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