The Ministry of Finance will launch a special hotline next week to receive public complaints on the Enterprise Sri Lanka (ESL) loan scheme as several reports have emerged that some banks have turned away the ESL loan applicants.
“The enthusiasm of some banks is not great. There are reports that some banks are discouraging people from applying for the ESL loan schemes. There are also attempts by some banks to pass the ESL loan schemes to their existing customers due to the low interest benefit,” Finance and Mass Media Minister Mangala Samaraweera told reporters in Colombo, on Tuesday.
Samaraweera stressed that therefore, he has been personally monitoring how each bank is progressing in granting the ESL loan scheme to entrepreneurs, in particular how much of credit issued for new ESL loan applicants each week.
Considering the various reports, Samaraweera said that he has also decided to introduce a special hotline to entrepreneurs to lodge their complaints on difficulties they face during the application process of the ESL loan scheme with banks and provide the required assistance
“We will introduce a special hotline for ESL next week, the number will be 2025 and we will shortly advertise this on media,” he said.
Meanwhile, Samaraweera emphasised that the recently concluded inaugural Enterprise Sri Lanka exhibition in Monaragala was a success, while noting that the three-day exhibition attracted nearly 600,000 people from Monaragala and surrounding areas and 5,175 entrepreneurs had registered for the ESL loan schemes during the period.
The minister also highlighted that nearly 60 percent of the exhibition cost was financed by the private sector.
Samaraweera noted that the government has launched Rs.600 million worth development projects in the Monaragala District during the past four months, while Rs.500 million has been allocated to build basic sanitary facilities for 25,000 houses in the district.
He alleged that the former regime had spent Rs.240 billion in white elephant infrastructure projects such as Mattala airport, Hambantota port and Suriyawewa International Cricket Stadium in the Hambantota District.
Samaraweera said that these projects failed to uplift the masses in the district and pointed out that 33.8 percent of households in the Hambantota District still remain as Samurdai beneficiaries, trapped in poverty and 10,000 houses lack basic sanitary facilities.
He stressed that one percent of the cost of these projects would have been sufficient to develop the Hambantota District.
The minister was confident that ESL would transform Sri Lanka to become an entrepreneur’s paradise in the near future.
“Our target is to create 100,000 new entrepreneurs during the first year of ESL. I will reveal the details of these entrepreneurs next year,” he stressed.
The Finance and Mass Media Ministry plans to hold the next Enterprise Sri Lanka exhibition in Kurunegala in mid-December followed by Anuradhapura in February and Jaffna in May. (NF)