By Charumini de Silva
The 36th National Conference of Chartered Accountants kicked off last night on a high note to inspire Sri Lankan corporates on the importance of ‘collaboration’ to help foster closer and sustainable partnerships with all stakeholders and achieve holistic business excellence.
The national conference at the BMICH with technical sessions today and tomorrow focuses on the theme ‘Catalyst 15: Collaborate to Compete’.
The inauguration ceremony was held under the patronage of Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Y.K. Sinha as the chief guest, while Prof. Rajendra Srivastava, LKCSB Chair in Marketing Strategy and International Business at Singapore Management University and Dean – Designate of the Indian School of Business (Hyderabad & Mohali), delivered the keynote speech at the inauguration.
High Commissioner Sinha said the theme of this year’s conference ‘Collaborate to Compete’ is the most appropriate in globalised world where linkages cutting across ethnicities, national groundings are assiduously cultivated and collaborations and partnerships are actively pursued and nurtured.
Citing an example he said the most recent was the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) where 12 countries signed agreements to arrive at a partnership that will have a significant impact on global trade and investments.
Noting that it is important to develop a cooperative framework for the region, Sinha said India, Sri Lanka and other countries in the region who are not part of TPP need to be strong enough to compete and survive.
“One way would be to energise the existing regional organisations such as South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) in order to build on our strengths. Such collaborations would help us to compete more effectively,” he explained.
He said that India has focused on a constructive and a responsive model for cooperation with Sri Lanka aimed at livelihood restoration, capacity building, human resources development. “In this respect we are guided by the Government of Sri Lanka. This is a collaboration that will achieve excellent results giving priorities to the Government of Sri Lanka.”
In recent years the collaboration included the bilateral FTA signed in 1998 and came into effect in 2000. Bilateral trade since has increased more than 10 times, he noted.
In addition India has extended assistance to Sri Lanka amounting up to $2.6 billion of which around $430 million are outright grants. Since 2003, the FDI flows from India to Sri Lanka was over $1 billion. The total FDI commitment in the pipeline from the Indian companies for the next three to five years is a $ 1 billion, he revealed.
Noting that the political leadership of the two countries has enhanced the collaborative activates he said; “During President Maithripala Sirisena’s visit to India in February an agreement was signed in corporation for peaceful use of nuclear energy. Prime Minister Modi during his visit to Sri Lanka in March this year announced a new credit line to the railway sector. When Prime Minister visited India in September both countries signed agreement for a satellite for the SAARC region.”
He went on to say that the collaboration of connectivity both virtual and physical between the two countries will benefit immensely.
“We are working towards resumption of ferry services in Talaimannar and Rameshwaram and even looking at a proposal to start the cruise or ferry service between Colombo and Cochin in Kerala. Already India and Sri Lanka enjoy close connectivity via air with 115 flights per week connecting Colombo to eight destinations in India.”
Emphasising that it was important that Sri Lanka takes advantage of it and become a part of the India’s growth story, Sinha suggested that Sri Lanka needs to plug its supply chain in a rapidly developing economy next door.
“Two years ago largest car manufacture in India had plans to set up an assembling plant in Sri Lanka. Had the proposal been approved then the picture would have been quite different today.”
Sri Lanka has imported $350 million worth of vehicles from India from January to August, which is almost 15% of the total imports from India.
Expressing his confidence over Sri Lanka’s way forward he said; “We look forward to new policy decisions that Sri Lanka plans to undertake. The Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s speech in Parliament today (5) and the budget later in the month will hopefully pave the way for greater trade and investments.”
Commenting on the CEPA Sinha noted that India is aware of the concerns raised by the Sri Lankan business community regarding the problem of access to Indian markets which has become a trade barrier.
“Opportunities need to be seized when they arise and not wonder due to misunderstanding and narrow political agendas. We need to take full advantage of the enhancing economic partnership between the two countries that has distinctive advantages,” he noted.
Sri Lanka needs to plug its supply chain in a rapidly developing economy next door.
It is important that Sri Lanka takes advantage of it and become a part of the India’s growth story.
Two years ago largest car manufacture in India had plans to set up an assembling plant in Sri Lanka. Since January to August $350 million worth of vehicles from India almost 15% of the total imports from India. Had the proposal been approved then the picture would have been quite different today.
We look forward to new policy decisions that Sri Lanka plans to undertake. Prime Minister’s speech in Parliament and the Budget later in the month will hopefully pave the way for greater trade and investments.
India is aware of the concerns raised by the Sri Lankan business community regarding the problem of access to Indian markets which has become a trade barrier.
Enhancing economic partnership between the two countries has distinctive advantages. However, opportunities need to be seized when they arise and not wonder due to misunderstanding and narrow political agendas.
During the two-day conference high profile local and foreign speakers will shed insight on how continuous collaboration could steer innovation within diverse organisations and how to harness the best talent in organisations, which could eventually result in organisations producing outstanding results.
Being recognised as one of the country’s biggest and most anticipated thought provoking business summits, its deliberations will educate the corporate sector on the importance of economic collaboration that can lead to competitive advantage and how companies can achieve excellence through collaborative supply chain models and how the Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) could be deployed as an effective strategy not only to meet the colossal funding of the infrastructure projects, but also to ensure technological and efficient management systems.
This year the conference accommodates over 1,500 people including high profile business leaders, while the proceedings of the conference will also be transmitted live via webcast for the convenience of over 2,000 overseas and local members of CA Sri Lanka who are unable to participant at the conference physically.
Pix by Upul Abayasekara