Financial Access

Oct 14, 2010 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s poor are reliable borrowers and repay loans, offering a growth opportunity for micro-finance especially in rural areas, deputy finance minister Sarath Amunugama said. Developing countries like Sri Lanka must not rely solely on export-led growth as in the past given sluggish recovery and rising protectionism in advanced economies, he told the Asia Microfinance Forum 2010 in Colombo.

The forum is looking at the role of microfinance in ensuring that poor and low-income people have access to reliable financial services.

“The poor are very bankable,” Amunugama told the forum organised by the Banking With the Poor Network and the Foundation for Development Cooperation.

“All studies done on micro-credit show that the repayment ratio is much higher than in large commercial banks where a lot of time is spent on non-performing loans (NPLs). There are very few NPLs among the poor – they are bankable.”

Amunugama said the government wants to ensure more equitable growth to help poor people, especially in rural areas improve living standards as half the island’s economy and growth has been concentrated in the western province where the capital Colombo is locate