stunt of copycat institute
By Faraz Shauketaly
two weeks ago The Sunday Leader revealed that the
recently formed Institute of Certified Management
Accountants, formerly the Society of Certified
Management Accountants is not only trying to copy the
designatory letters (the post nominals) FCMA and ACMA
traditionally used by the fully qualified members of the
Chartered Institute of Management Accountants of UK ,
but also trying prevent the 40,000 odd CIMA members
using their rightful designatory letters using a
hurriedly passed parliamentary bill as the cover.
week ICMA Sri Lanka went a step further by seeking an
injunction against a business scroll that has been
conducting classes for students preparing for the
examinations of the Institute of Certified Management
Accountants of Australia, an institute which was
incorporated long before the local copy cat institute.
Accountancy is probably the most widely spread
professional qualification in Sri Lanka and the quality
of Sri Lankan accountants (of course mostly with foreign
qualifications) is considered quite high globally. It is
in this backdrop some institutes as we highlighted in
our previous article are trying to piggy bag on the
demand for professional qualifications in the field of
accountancy by offering not so high quality programmes.
Whether one offers a high quality accounting
qualification or a low quality accounting qualification
the highly competitive education field has never stooped
to this level of unethical and unprofessional practices
where one tries to block competition by misleading
legislators to pass private bills in parliament without
sufficient debate on their actual purpose and
implications to the country.
Several senior corporate executives who spoke to The
Sunday Leader were shocked at the level of manipulation
taking place in the field of education and pointed out
that these so called “educational institutes” led by
“professors” whose source of qualifications remain
unknown to the public – despite a number of attempts by
The Sunday Leader to find out — are causing huge damage
to the value system of the country by promoting unfair
Lakshman Watawala a professor or is he not?
Justify his claim
Sunday Leader spoke to Lakshman Watawala in an attempt
to have his clarification. We were most keen in finding
out whether he could justify his claim to be a
“professor.” We had previously sent him an e-mail to
which we have yet to obtain an explanation – of any
sort. In the absence of any explanation we can only
presume that Watawala has no legitimate claim to call
himself a professor – something he was able to in the
past but apparently not now. As if he did, he may have
wished to clarify exactly on what basis he is able to do
Watawala stated by telephone that he did not think that
The Sunday Leader was fair in its dealings with him –
yet we have reproduced in full his explanation but
Watawala has not reciprocated the courtesy of responding
to our e-mail on the use of his “professorship.”
stated categorically that he had no wish to speak with
The Sunday Leader; nevertheless we pointed out to
Watawala that this question was really in the public
interest – that too failed to move him: with expected
opprobrium Watawala cut the line. It could have been
nice talking to him. This then from a professionally
qualified man, a former BOI chairman and having held a
number of high positions. Shocking.
accountants enjoy international repute. It is often
cited as one of the key considerations for companies
seeking to work in the BPO industry. Therefore, the need
for shadow branding – diplomatic speak for copy cat
practise – is a non-starter. It can have only
detrimental effects as when the international markets
recognise the duplicitous nature of qualifications that
are available in Sri Lanka – thanks to this piece of ill
thought of legislation – there will be no doubt at all,
that those companies will look at regional countries
leaving Sri Lanka well alone. As Laurel said to Hardy,
“That’s another fine mess you’ve got me into.”
COPE frowns on credit policy of govt.
By Arthur Wamanan
Committee on Public Enterprise (COPE) has said the lack
of a proper credit policy is one of the weakest areas of
financial management in public enterprise.
COPE report said that many public enterprises had given
large sums of credit to customers and other business
partners without taking into consideration the actual
needs and the capability of the respective enterprise to
grant such credit.
also to be noted that when large sums of money are
carried forward as balances in debtor’s accounts, there
is always a possibility of controls becoming very poor
and fraudulent activities creeping into the systems,
without getting revealed,” the COPE report said.
examined 20 public enterprises last year and released
its first report this month. The report contained
several drawbacks in the enterprises that were examined.
other observation made by the committee was that several
public enterprises had been found without proper
internal audit staff. “It has been stated that in some
enterprises the schemes of recruitment do not provide
adequate salary levels preventing the recruitment of
qualified internal auditors.”
said the matter needed to be addressed by the Salaries
and Cadre Commission or the Finance Ministry “since
failure to have permanent internal auditors can create
many weaknesses and losses as has been observed in the
Failed to consult AG
Several enterprises that were examined by COPE had
failed to consult the Attorney General’s Department when
they faced legal issues.
report listed National Lotteries Board, Public Utilities
Commission and Export Credit Insurance Corporation, as
those which failed to obtain legal advice.
was also observed that Ceylon Petroleum Corporation had
failed to consult the Attorney General in taking
important decisions on purchases,” the report added.
stated that it had made observations common to many
enterprises and therefore could be used in drawing
guidelines for the future.
Meanwhile COPE also listed enterprises that could not be
summoned due to uncertainty in legal requirements.
Enterprises like SriLankan Airlines and Sri Lanka
Telecom Ltd were listed as those which cannot be
summoned by COPE. “Certain such institutions had made
representations to the Committee that they are
registered as private companies under the Companies Act
and hence they are not subject to scrutiny by COPE or
Meanwhile, COPE also said it was essential that the Sri
Lanka Press Council is reconstituted by next month.
Press Council had been defunct since 2002 and at the
moment, only registration is done by the council. “There
are groups which suspect that the council will suppress
the work of the press. This is unfounded suspicion,” the
committee recommended that a general policy for all
public enterprises be laid down and to review schemes of
recruitment to take in qualified internal auditors.
committee also recommended that all public enterprises
seek the services of the Attorney General’s Department
when facing legal issues.
met on 20 occasions from September 9 to December 4 last
year to examine the 20 enterprises.
other enterprises that were examined by COPE were Sri
Lanka Tea Board, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau,
Ceylon Fishery Harbours Corporation, Atomic Energy
Authority, Water Resources Board, Post Graduate
Institute of Management, National Building Research
Organisation, Sri Lanka Export Credit Insurance
Corporation, State Development and Construction
Corporation, Consumer Affairs Authority, Insurance Board
of Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Standards Institute, National
Transport Commission, Land Reform Commission,
Development Lotteries Board, and Sri Lanka Land
Reclamation and Development Corporation.