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'Market Access Assistance' initiative for companies facing funding issues

Sri Lankan companies have not been able to harness maximum benefits of a state sponsored Market Access Assistance programme designed to empower entrepreneurs due to lack of funding, an Auditor General's recent report has revealed.

The programme helps entrepreneurs to expand markets, modernise and upgrade products/services and production processes and increase market access to connect and compete by introducing improved value added products and services.

According to the AGs query findings, although the provision approved for this programme in 2019/ 2020 was LKR 175 million, the Export Development Board (EDB) had received only LKR 96 million and therefore, it had not been able to fulfill the budgeted targets.

100 companies were earmarked to provide export market access for 2019/ 2020 period but the authorities have not been able to achieve the target due to being short of funds.

It had been decided to assist 36 companies under the first classification and 52 companies under the second classification during the stipulated period by the EDB.

A total of LKR 17.3 million had been spent on 36 companies for the participation in international trade fairs under the first category.

In the meantime, two companies for trade fairs relating to rubber and rubber products sector, 11 companies for trade fairs relating to the apparel sector and five companies for trade fairs relating to the information technology and business process management sectors had participated in overseas fairs.

In addition, 34 companies had been approved for the purchase of machinery under the second classification in 2019, of which a total of LKR 21.8 million that is 40% from the approved amount for 13 companies, had been paid, the report revealed.

The report noted that the EDB had approved to support 17 companies for product process trade affairs expansion, production capacity development and new brand development and of which only 11 had been given a total of LKR 17.7 million at 40% each.

The recipients were selected by an Evaluation Panel appointed for the purpose. Beneficiary enterprises represented rubber, apparel footwear, coconut, machinery parts and components, food packaging, ornamental fish and jewellery manufacturing sectors.

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