By Dinali Goonewardene
The Institute of Chartered Accountants (CA Sri Lanka) ceremonially inducted its 21st President, Sujeewa Rajapakse, at a ceremony at the Cinnamon Grand hotel yesterday.
Rajapakse, who is the Managing Partner at BDO Partners, the fifth largest audit firm globally, took over for a two-year term from outgoing President Sujeewa Mudalige.
Newly-inducted President Rajapakse expressed confidence in the capacity of the council members and their ability to respond to the demands of members.
He said the challenge remained in coming to grips with the needs of the interests of stakeholders such as employers, regulators, trading partners and business councils. He also spoke of the need to respond to the needs of the 37,000 strong student body.
“Today we are faced with the needs of discerning employees and clients and law suits for professional negligence are increasing,” Rajapakse said. He said he would like to strive to avoid practitioners being subject to unlimited liability and would make appropriate submissions to the council in this regard.
He drew attention to the alignment of the war-ravaged north with the rest of the economy and the increasing importance of the small and medium enterprise sector and said the World Bank was looking at increasing the technical capacity of the body.
He said the institute corporate governance code was rule based and in the books of the Colombo Stock Exchange and Securities and Exchange Commission.
He mentioned that education and training would take top priority pointing out that the institute was the only accounting body responsible for setting accounting and auditing standards. He said 30% of members were spread across the globe.
The institute provides a Master of Business Administration qualification in collaboration with the University of Southern Queensland and proposed having closer dialogues with students.
He said this was an important year as Sri Lanka would converge with International Financial Reporting Standards in line with global markets and developments. The institute has a range of programmes in view and would continue to work closely with the Central Bank, Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Inland Revenue. He said it was necessary to build on links with regional accounting bodies.
With the construction of new infrastructure, boost in tourism and complex new business processes a new role had revolved for the institute and it is our responsibility to manage with care, Rajapakse said. He pointed out that Sri Lanka has one of the highest literacy rates and suffers from a dearth of professionals but had earned a reputation for business process out sourcing which could be further developed.
“The council and I have a clear plan which we will execute with the support of members,” he concluded.
The Chief Guest at the ceremony, Central Bank Governor Nivard Cabraal said Sri Lanka would see some rapid strides going forward and spoke of the growth Sri Lanka had achieved since 1982: Gross Domestic Growth from 4% to 8%, and growth of stock market capitalisation to Rs. 2.2 trillion. He said there would be tremendous expectation for people taking over the role of Chartered Accountant.
A leading corporate figure in the world of finance, Rajapakse is a fellow of the institute with over 25 years of experience in practice and has wide exposure in diversified businesses and activities both nationally and internationally.
He is the Managing Partner of BDO Partners, a firm of Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka which is a member firm of BDO International, the world’s fifth largest accountancy and advisory services network and currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Development Bank and Asian Alliance Insurance PLC.
Rajapakse who holds an MBA from the Postgraduate Institute of Management, University of Sri Jayewardenepura was enrolled as an Associate Member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka in 1994 and as a Fellow of the institute in 1999. He was elected as a Member of Council of the institute in 2003 and as the Vice President of the institute in 2009.
He has also been extensively involved in institute activities and has served as Chairman in several important committees of the institute.
In addition, Rajapakse also represents the institute in the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board, South Asian Federation of Accountants (Board Member), Confederation of Asia Pacific Accountants as a Technical Advisor, the International Federation of Accountants and in the Monitory Policy Consultative Committee of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.
Meanwhile, Arjuna Herath, Partner at Ernst and Young with over 20 years of experience was elected as the Vice President of the institute. Herath was initially appointed as a Member of Council during the periods of 2002/03 and 2005/06 and was subsequently elected to the Council in 2010/11.
He presently serves as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board and has served as a member of the Board of Directors of United Motors Lanka Ltd., Nepal Sri Lanka Merchant Bank Ltd. in Nepal, GTE Directories Lanka Pvt. Ltd., Orient Financial Services Corporation Ltd., Astron Ltd., and GTB Colombo Corporations Ltd.