Sri Lanka’s limiting and banning of imports of non-essential items is a welcome step in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic-and more so for the revival of the country’s agri-SME sector.
“Government’s limiting and ban on imports of non-essential items shall help local enterprises looking to get into in the production and processing of these items. We believe this situation presents the country with a rare opportunity to kick-start the revival of several local SME sectors” said COSMI Founder President Nawaz Rajabdeen on 4 April.
COSMI’s Rajabdeen was welcoming Co-Cabinet Spokesman Minister Ramesh Pathirana’s statement of Sri Lanka’s decision to ban or limit all non-essential imports into the country except medicine and fuel.
“SMEs in agri-business, aquaculture, poultry and other livestock are some of the priority sectors that can make use of government’s support if given. Also the strong domestic demand for their produce during this COVID crisis shows low market risk for their supplies with possible immediate profits so that many connected livelihoods too get a boost. We need to understand that SMEs are everywhere-in urban and rural areas. Therefore in a crisis, our consumers first visit the SMEs and micros, rather than big companies –in that MSMEs are not only economy’s lifeline but also of Sri Lankan consumers. We appeal to all the micro and small sector industries and the trade enterprises to take this challenge to get back to Business with our support. We faced worst disasters such as the 2004 Tsunami with total destruction of small business enterprises the coastal regions. At that time one of challenges Sri Lanka faced was to revive and resurrect the micro and small sector industries. Let us take this as an opportunity and a challenge and rise back. We at COSMI are confident that we can play a very supportive role in this. We also thank President Gotabhaya Rajapakse and the Government of Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapakse for the timely action taken to lockdown the country preventing the COVID19 spread” Rajabdeen added.
The agri-business sectors that the local SMEs in are spices, teas including specialty teas, herbal medicinal and beverage supplements, coconut and oils, short eats, and fruits & vegetables. Aquaculture sectors where local SMEs in are ornamental fish & ocean fisheries including fishery cooperatives and processing.
Previously on 19 March the Central Bank of Sri Lanka brought in several measures to ease exchange rate pressures and prevent market panic due COVID-19 pandemic. It directed the Banks to adopt three measures-suspending import of all types motor vehicles, suspending importation of non-essential goods and purchase of Sri Lanka International Sovereign Bonds.
The Confederation of Micro, Small and Medium Industries (COSMI) was formed in 2019, and aims to revive and foster the MSME and industry sectors of Sri Lanka.