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AAT Sri Lanka holds 17th Annual Conference

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By Charumini de Silva

The Association of Accounting Technicians of Sri Lanka (AAT) held its 17th Annual Conference in Colombo last week.

The two-day conference titled ‘Success = (Accountant’s role + Entrepreneur’s expectations) * Mindfulness’ was focused on the contribution of committed professionals to rebuild country’s economy with a view to attract more investments for growth. 

The 2019 conference was inaugurated under the patronage of Megapolis and Western Development Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka as the Chief Guest and Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Non-Cabinet Minister Dr. Harsha de Silva as the Guest of Honour. Professional Accountancy Organisation Development Committee – International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) Chairman Arjuna Herath was the keynote speaker of the event.

AAT facilitated eminent resource personnel in chosen fields and saw over 500 participants sharing knowledge and experience with leading professionals from various segments at a single venue.

Delivering the keynote address Arjuna Herath said AAT is one of the most progressive accounting institutes in the world adding that it is recognised by the fact that AAT Sri Lanka is only the second Accounting Technicians institute in the world to get IFAC membership after AAT of UK. 

“I believe many have taken for granted the significant role played by AAT not only in the progress and development of the accounting profession but in our nation’s development and progress during a short time span of just 30+ years. A very rapid and an agile contribution,” he said.

Herath emphasised on the serious shortfall in the required accounting foundation and accounting technicians’ skills at present. “This is an issue for SMEs, local and provincial Government authorities and development agencies running projects at a local level. This not any different in Sri Lanka. Further, it is an issue for the profession as well, as the senior accounting professionals finds it difficult to fulfil their roles without good support from adequately competent support staff,” he added.

Pointing out that there are so many supporting staff in the medical profession, he insisted on the plight of accountants have to undergo, primarily because of the weak value chain leading to the professional accountant. “There is an urgent need to put in place an effective support system for the professional accountant and AAT has a role to play in this,” he stressed.

He also noted it was unfortunate that in the accountant’s value chain, whoever that does not reach the professional accountant’s status drops out of intermediary roles and gets to other roles in the commercial sector.

“This has resulted in the accounting profession providing a good talent pool for commerce and industry at the expense of our own profession. This is not a bad thing as we are contributing to the progress and development of the commercial world. The question is, whilst we do this, how do we get to fulfil our own requirements? With technology transforming and impacting the profession we will need to sooner than later build and strengthen this much-needed value chain,” he said.

One of the requirements to strengthen the value chain he suggested was the need to establish ‘dignity of labour’ for all accounting occupations as much as for any other occupation.

“We need to treat our support staff with respect they deserve, and recognise and value the work they perform. If we start doing this, we will build the process to recognise and treat them in a dignified manner resulting in building value of for the respective occupations,” Herath said.

Herath believes this will facilitate the creation of an ecosystem that will make the work of the professional accountant and the profession far more efficient and effective, and will result in a strong value chain for the accounting profession to deliver the expectations of the society.

Minister Champika Ranawaka and Dr. Harsha de Silva also spoke on the economic challenges, opportunities and way forward to a faster growth. They also called on for the proactive professional accountant’s contribution for nation building process.

On the second day of the conference saw Stimulating Technical Sessions to coincide with the substance and the significance of the theme presented by eminent resource personnel. Topics which was discussed at the technical sessions include: ‘Start-Up Guardian Angels: The Accountant’, ‘Mindfulness as a Tool for Success and Inner Peace’, ‘Taxation and Technical Developments: Change for Better’, ‘From Entrepreneur’s ‘Dream’ to Accounting ‘Reality’ which revolves around the theme.

Pix by Upul Abayasekara


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