Raising a question under Standing Order 27/2, the Leader of the Opposition said that the problems of these small and medium scale entrepreneurs have been worsened due to the failure of the government to identify the parties that should be given priority in managing the economy.
Premadasa questioned, “As per a press release issued on 20.12.2019, what happened to the decision to write off loans up to Rs. 300 million obtained by small and medium scale entrepreneurs? Why has that decision not been implemented so far? Although the Prosperity Vision stated that it would provide relief for industrialists’ loan repayments, why was it not implemented in the same way?”
Premadasa further said, “The Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) has instructed licensed commercial banks to extend the moratorium on loans to SMEs to 2021.12.31. How many people have received this loan relief so far? Has the Government made any assessment in this regard? Is the Government aware that some financial institutions have failed to provide this loan relief to small and medium scale industrialists? If so, what are the measures taken for that?”
“It is also reported that some financial institutions have exploited entrepreneurs by converting loan interest into another loan. Is the Government aware of this? If so, what steps has the Government taken to prevent this? In the face of this situation, it is reported that some financial institutions are conducting vehicle seizing in a threatening manner when small and medium scale industrialists are unable to repay the leasing loans obtained for vehicles. Is the Government aware of this? Also, is the Government aware that it is embarrassing the industrialists by offering vague financial terms when it comes to selling vehicles or preparing to pay off lease loan installments obtained? If so, how many complaints have been received so far? Has an investigation been conducted into those complaints? What action will be taken against financial institutions that act in such a manner?,” Premadasa questioned.
Premadasa also said that the current severe import restrictions have created a problem in importing the raw materials needed to sustain small and medium scale industries. It is a reason for the decline in export earnings as well as the severe collapse of the country’s economy, he noted. “Is the Government working to provide a special relief package to revive these businesses that have collapsed? Does the Government have a specific plan for that? So, what is it?,” Premadasa questioned.