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Exports Face Ever Increasing Competition – Suresh Shah

By Roy Silva

Sri Lankan exports will face ever increasing competition in the years ahead. It will be compelled to face greater competition at home and the country will have no choice but compete in markets overseas, said Suresh Shah, Chairman of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC) on Wednesday.

The CCC chief was addressing the launch of the Syllabus 2015 of the Sri Lanka Institute of Chartered Accountants (ICA) held at the Cinnamon Grand Hotel in Colombo on March 25, where almost all the business leaders of the country were present.

The launch, themed ‘The Change that Creates Champions’, was described as the unveiling of ICA’s groundbreaking new curriculum designed to produce highly versatile chartered accountants for 2020 and beyond who will help steer businesses across all sectors with their unique competence and multi-faceted skills.

Reflecting on what the future entails for both the country and the private sector, Mr. Shah, the chief guest at the launch, said that being a small country, Sri Lanka’s economic prosperity and sustainability is inescapably linked to external trade.

“Sri Lanka has no choice. We must continue to liberalise trade and investments while promoting, at a much faster pace, our exports. Thus Sri Lankan exports will face ever increasing competition in the years ahead. We will be compelled to face greater competition at home and we will have no choice but compete in markets overseas,” said Mr. Shah.

Observing that increasingly, Sri Lanka will compete with regional and global businesses, he said that they will come with cutting edge technology, a range of financial instruments, the latest in systems and processes and the very best in human resources.

“And we must be ready, not just to meet such competition, but indeed to beat them. It is not enough that our products and services are good, they must be superior. It is not enough that our financing is adequate, it must be smart. It is not enough that our systems and processes are efficient, they must give us the competitive advantage. Indeed, it is not enough that Sri Lankan business change, they must transform,” stressed the head of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce.

Pointing out that the Institute of Chartered Accountants had brought about significant changes to its courses of study, widely acclaimed both locally and internationally as a much sought after accounting qualification, Mr. Shah said that many chartered accountants had reached the top in Sri Lanka’s public and private sectors. “As many as 30 per cent of its members serve in organizations overseas. The temptation to ‘not fix it if it’s broke’ must have been very high. But it’s a testament to the professionalism of the CA Sri Lanka that this temptation was resisted. And from 2015, students of CA Sri Lanka will have the benefit of having a curriculum developed with the future in mind,” said Mr. Shah.

The education systems of our country, a lot of institutions such as CA Sri Lanka, would play a crucial role in this transformation.  The demand would be for professionals with knowledge, skills and attitude. Knowledge in the superior design of products in the services, skills to convert the prototype into commercially viable offerings; skills also to innovate business models that drive competitive advantage and personal attributes to compete in the market place with determination, aggression, passion and integrity, he observed.

This trend is the profile that the CA Sri Lanka must strive to meet with its new curriculum, he said and added that the new syllabus aims to transform the 2020 chartered accountant into a catalyst for growth at both the corporate and national level.

“The chartered accountant of tomorrow will no longer be confined to the traditional role of financial expert. Instead, the chartered accountant of 2020 will be a leader who can partner business, engage stakeholders and create sustainable budgets. CA Sri Lanka has set a fine example to all the professional bodies in the country. It has had the vision, wisdom and the courage to change because the future demands it. The business community will no doubt welcome the initiative,” said the CCC chief.

Speaking at the landmark event, President of CA Sri Lanka, Arjuna Herath emphasized that the world had become exceedingly complex and is fast changing.

“In such an environment, we need to continuously transform ourselves to be useful players in the progress and development of our people and the organizations we serve. This was the rationale for the new syllabus. It demonstrates our commitment to making the Chartered Accounting qualification relevant to current and future needs of business and an enhancement to the learning experience of students,” he said.

The new syllabus is geared to meet the needs of both employers and employees at all levels of competencies, said Herath adding that, “The highest level being a ‘2020-ready’ Chartered Accountant who will partner the businesses to tomorrow through financial leadership. Our aim is also to make this qualification the most sought after qualification for a business leader”.

The curriculum 2015 is structured around three pillars: Knowledge, Skills and Personal and is offered at three levels: Executive, Business and Corporate.

The new curriculum, which comes into effect from next year, is designed to ensure that the future chartered accountant goes beyond its traditional financial role and becomes a true partner in business who will create value, enable value, preserve value and report value to the organization they serve.

The new curriculum, which meets international standards including global qualification requirements laid down by the international Federation of Accountants in its International Education Standards, was developed following an intensive consultation process comprising CA Sri Lanka members, and non-members including chief executive officers, heads of accounting and finance, human resource managers, academics and students.

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