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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 75

Banks urged to support rural projects to reduce the burden of foreign debts - Prof Tissa Vitarana

By Manjari Peiris in Colombo

Colombo, 18 March, ( "The General Motors Prof Tissa VitaranaProf Tissa Vitaranaof United States of America have curtailed 60% of their motor vehicle production now. This has resulted in reducing the demand for Sri Lanka tyres and other rubber products. Exports of tyres by Loadstar too have been severely affected." Professor Tissa Vitarana, Minister of Science & Technology revealed at a ceremony held in Kalutara, organized by the People’s Bank Regional Office in Kalutara District in collaboration with the Ministry of Science & Technology.

This ceremony was held to discuss the current situation in regard to a loan scheme especially introduced by the People’s Bank island-wide to help new entrepreneurs developed by the technologies introduced by Vidatha Resource Centres scattered throughout the country. There are already 240 Vidatha Resource Centres established in the country and more than 4000 entrepreneurs have emerged through this programme.

Professor Vitarana also stated that some sort of progress could be observed in all districts. "Kegalle district was in the forefront, but now Kalutara district too is equally in the forefront. This progress in Kalutara district is purely due to the dedicated service of Keerthi Kariyawasam who is the son of a genuine social worker."

The Minister further stated that Loadstar was now in the process of researching into developing better quality tyres in Sri Lanka for country’s consumption by applying nano-technology, so that the demand for rubber in the country could be increased. “This initiative will be a good solution to face the economic recession prevailed in the entire world.” he said. Loadstar is already a partner for the Nanoco – the government/private joint venture established in Sri Lanka to promote nano-technology in Sri Lanka.

Professor Vitarana pointed out the necessity of reducing imports to overcome the burden of foreign debts. "90% of sugar consumption in Sri Lanka is being imported. The status of import of milk consumption too is the same. The Bank sector could support to reduce this burden by helping to promote rural projects."

Keerthi Kariyawasam, Private Secretary to the Minister of Science & Technology stated that poverty was still prevailing in rural areas where the majority led their livelihood with agriculture. "Unemployment problem is very high for which reason we thought of supporting them through Vidatha programme. The support given by the People’s Bank is immeasurable. For Kalutara district alone the bank has provided over 5 million rupees to support new entrepreneurs numbering more than 700." Mr. Kariyawasam gave an example of an entrepreneur in Dodangoda engaged in mushroom cultivation by taking just Rs. 50,000/- from People’s Bank and now providing employment for 8 people. "They purchase all the mushrooms cultivated in the village." he said.

While appreciating the good work of the People’s Bank, he made several suggestions to the bank to relieve and support the Vidatha entrepreneurs more, such as looking into the possibility of increasing the loan amount, reducing interest rate, more flexibility on security and expediting the process of loan obtainment etc.

The General Manager of People’s Bank in the Kalutara Zone, M.J. Wijesinghe, stated that the education level of people in the Kalutara district was at a very high level and promised to give due consideration to the suggestions made by the Private Secretary.

M.C.N. Dissanayake, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Science & Technology emphasized the importance of encouraging entrepreneurs to use the loans for optimum and effective use in compliance to the objectives of Vidatha Programme.

P.A. Pathirana, General of Manager of People’s Bank stated that there were plenty of unemployed young people in Sri Lanka and that the Bank should not wait until they come to the Bank, but go from house to house and spread out this scheme. "More systems should be introduced to approach entrepreneurs. This is a social responsibility which we should fulfill to the society."

- Asian Tribune -

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