Following are excerpts of an interview with Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka President Sujeewa Rajapakse and Annual Report Awards Committee 2012 Chairman Tishan Subasinghe:
Q: Could you please elaborate the national role of CA Sri Lanka?
A: The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Si Lanka is the national body of accountants incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1959. We are the sole authority in promulgating accounting and auditing standards in the country. Therefore we are primarily tasked with ensuring that there is a robust and sound financial landscape in place.
A part of this comes from promulgating globally recognised accounting and auditing standards and seeing that those standards are pertinent in the current context. And the other part comes from fostering knowledge in accounting and finance. We involved in both the above. We have about 37,000 students and over 4,000 members at present.
Q: This will be the 48th ARA. What made the institute continue the event for more than 48 years?
A: An annual report is the single most important disclosure of an organisation’s performance, position and highlights during that particular financial year. An annual report is required to make certain mandatory disclosers so that it gives a true and fare view of the organisation to its readers and there are certain disclosure made by organisations voluntarily which are of significance to its stakeholders. We realised the importance of recognising excellence in annual reporting there by promoting transparency.
Q: Would you please elaborate aims of this award ceremony and the present theme – ‘Looking Beyond Regulatory Reporting’?
A: The aims of the awards ceremony are:
1. To reward excellence in annual reporting: Effective communication to stakeholders through publication of informative annual reports; Effective presentation of financial and non-financial information; Complying with legislative requirements and generally accepted accounting practices.
2. Encourages organisations to meet the global expectations: Disclosing an organisation’s financial and non-financial performance; To focus on the organisation and its values, achievements and contribution to society rather than indicating the financial results of an organisation only; To go beyond providing statutory disclosures and present a holistic view of an organisation’s performance mainly transparency in operations, good governance, sustainability and social responsibility.
The theme is ‘Looking Beyond Regulatory Reporting’. Corporates try to ensure compliance with regulatory reporting in presenting their Annual Reports. What we at CA Annual Report Awards endeavour is to recognise companies that go beyond the regulatory reporting and present timely and relevant financial information to their stake holders while also giving them a balanced and coherent glimpse into the company’s future direction – the business model, future plans, significant risks, sustainability and how the company is managed. This year each report will be scrutinised for additional information that will make it stand out from the rest.
Q: Could you give an overall insight about the structure of this award ceremony?
A: The competition is open to any organisation that produces an annual report, from multinational companies to small time community groups. A total of 22 special categories of awards will be presented to the winner, first and second runners up respectively at a grand finale.
This year, the judging panel will consider any additional information that can be provided by the participating company. Along with this year’s theme, ‘Looking Beyond Regulatory Reporting,’ each organisation’s resources and the scale, complexity and sophistication of its operations will be considered in the judging process along with creativity and colour of the actual report.
Entrants for Corporate Governance, Management Commentary and Corporate Social Responsibility Awards will be evaluated by a panel of specialists against a separate marking scheme. The judges essentially evaluate the extent to which readers or stakeholders can make informed decisions about the organisation based on the annual report.
Q: What are the benefits gained by the corporate sector by participating in this awards ceremony?
A: Raising awareness about and improving the quality of annual reporting amongst companies in Sri Lanka. Instant recognition and credibility to a company’s operations, increasingly being sought by all stakeholders. Mandatory and voluntary disclosures reflect the organisation’s commitment to transparency, enhanced governance and demonstrate in detail how the organisation engages with all its stakeholders.
These awards provide a holistic view of an organisation’s performance, going beyond the company bottom-line. By qualifying and quantifying the company’s performance, stakeholders get a deep insight into the company’s operations. Annual Report Awards have been instrumental in inculcating financial reporting discipline in the corporate sector which makes these companies competitive in a global context.
Q: How about last year’s event, participation and expectations this year?
A: CA had its 47th Award Ceremony in 2011, and there were 98 corporate were applied for the competition and this was held at Waters Edge in 2011 under the patronage of Minister Basil Rajapaksa. Commercial Bank PLC was the Gold winner, Union Assurance was the Silver winner and HNB won the Bronze overall excellence in Annual Financial Reporting. This year we are expecting over 120 participants for the award ceremony. CA Sri Lanka is expecting diverse sectors to participate in this awards ceremony.
Q: Could you outline some information about the competition, how companies can participate and the details of the final awards ceremony?
A: Registrations for the competition are now on. Any organisation that produces an annual report can participant in this competition. We have identified 22 industry sectors under which awards will be presented. For more information you can contact our institute via 2352000 or visit our website www.casrilanka.com.
The awards ceremony will be held on 5 December 2012 at Waters Edge Battaramulla and we will have around 700 guests consisting of top officials of leading organisations in the country.
Q: As the President of CA Sri Lanka, what would you like to convey to the corporate world?
A: This would be a testament to their dedication towards excellence in annual reporting and transparency. Marking is carried out at several rounds and over 100 chartered accountants and industry experts are involved in the marking process, which is conducted under the supervision of our technical division. I take this opportunity to invite organisations to be a part of this competition.
Q: Could you elaborate on the marking process adopted for the annual report awards competition?
A: The annual reports are evaluated against established criteria and do not include the actual financial position or the actual financial or non-financial performance of an organisation. The winners are selected based on their ability to effectively communicate organisational objectives, highlights, performance, personnel and management to an intended audience.
After an initial selection process conducted by a panel of judges, shortlisted contestants will undergo an intense technical review. The overall winners will be selected by the final panel of judges following an intensive screening process. They will be selected purely on merit, irrespective of their industry sector.
Q: With registrations already open, when is the final day for companies to submit their application for the competition?
A: Following the overwhelming demand CA Sri Lanka has received, the institute has decided to extend its registrations until 10 September, giving the opportunity for more companies to submit applications for the awards competition. So far we have received an impressive number of applications from organisations representing diverse sectors, including big-time conglomerates and small-time community groups.