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"Reach for the Gold" as CA Sri Lanka opens registrations for prestigious 50th Annual Report Awards Competition

The coveted Annual Report Awards Competition organized by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka), got off the ground with a press conference held on 5th August 2014 at Jaic Hilton.

The Awards celebrates its landmark 50th anniversary milestone this year. In keeping with this year’s landmark milestone, this year’s competition will revolve around the theme ‘Annual Report Awards Reaches Gold.’

Entries are now open for the competition which honours and recognizes corporates for their outstanding corporate governance and excellence in financial reporting.

Recognized as one of Sri Lanka’s most celebrated corporate level competitions, the Annual Report Awards Competition is open to any organization that produces an annual report, from multinational companies to small time community groups and small scale establishments.

Awards will be presented under 23 categories which will include a main winner and two runners up under each category. Evaluation and judgment is passed according to established criteria which does not include the actual financial position or the actual financial / non-financial performance of a company. The awards recognize and selects winners based on their ability to effectively communicate their company’s objectives, highlights, performance, personal and management to a select audience.

The 50th Golden Jubilee will be further boosted with the Colombo Stock Exchange coming on board as the ‘Strategic Partner’ while Lanka Ratings Agency Limited coming onboard as the ‘Event Sponsor’ for this year’s competition.

President of CA Sri Lanka, Mr. Arjuna Herath noted that when initiatives are often short-lived or short-sighted, the prophetic vision of CA Sri Lanka’s founding fathers in creating a competition of such significance way back in 1964 was indeed impressive, and its endurance over the past 50 years at a time when even the most unique of ideas fail to make it to the top, was yet another very impressive achievement.

“There is no doubt that the Annual Report Awards Competition has increased in stature and significance over the years, and the growing number of participants each year for this prestigious competition is testament to the competition’s significance,” Mr. Herath said.

He emphasized that last year, in comparison to previous years, the competition received its highest number of applications, which means more and more organizations understand the important elements of transparency and accountability.

“I am certain this year’s Golden Jubilee Competition will be the beginning of a new journey towards renewed corporate reporting excellence providing an impetus to growth and development of Sri Lanka’s economy,” Mr. Herath added.

Chairman of the Annual Report Awards Committee, Mr. Tishan Subasinghe emphasized that the Annual Report Awards Competition has been instrumental in shaping the quality of annual reports of corporates to the highest standard, taking financial reporting to a whole new level in Sri Lanka.

Mr. Subasinghe added that year the competition has updated the checklists to absorb new changes to the accounting standards. “Some marks have been re-allocated in recognizing the importance of certain disclosures. Due recognition has been placed on certain mandatory and voluntary disclosures with respect to related party transactions and corporate governance disclosures in terms of allocation of marks,” he added.

Mr. Vajira Kulatilaka, Chairman Colombo Stock Exchange expressing his views on their association as the Strategic Partner of the Awards this year said “the standard of Annual Financial Reporting of Sri Lanka has improved tremendously over the years. An annual report serves as a vital instrument for shareholders in making investment decisions and with the development of annual reporting today it has also become an important source of information to a larger group of stakeholders. The improvement that Sri Lanka has achieved in the sphere of financial reporting has contributed significantly for the development of the capital market.” While congratulating CA Sri Lanka for pioneering excellence in annual reporting by organizing this awards for 50 years, he also commended the role played by CA Sri Lanka as the national body of accountants in the development of the country’s financial reporting framework.

Chief Executive Officer of CA Sri Lanka, Mr. Aruna Alwis said that since its launch in 1964, the Annual Reports Awards Competition has been a pioneer in helping the corporate sector boosts its transparency element in financial reporting and every year the competition sees the incorporation of new criteria to help the competition’s relevancy.

“Integrated reporting has been a very topical subject in the corporate arena over the recent past, and the 50th Annual Report Awards Competition will see the inclusion of a new category focusing on Integrated Reporting, to further encourage organizations which have adopted this internationally mooted trend,” Mr. Alwis added.

This year’s competition will follow a strict and in-depth judging process in selecting the winners for the Golden Jubilee competition. The judging process will follow an initial selection process, subsequent to which shortlisted applicants will face an intense technical review, and this will follow an intensive screening process which will be conducted by the final panel of judges. Judging will be purely on merit irrespective of industry sector.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka has come a long way since it was incorporated 55 years ago. The history of the Annual Reports Awards is as long as the history of the institute and this year we are celebrating 50 years of Annual Reports Awards. It is a very progressive journey we have travelled during the last 50 to 55 years to be what we are today.

It was not so long ago that we were lagging behind in accounting processes, systems and accounting standards in this country. We are now in the forefront in the accounting world, with our accounting standards aligned in all aspects to international financial reporting standards, our auditing standards are in line in all aspects with international auditing standards, the use of technology in accounting is in line with the latest technology available, our curriculum is world class, and we produce chartered accountants to the world with approximately 25% of our members working overseas.

Today the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka is considered a role model for the professional accountancy organization across the world. As a result we are very influential in the International Federation of Accountants, the apex accountancy body in the world, has the leadership of the Confederation of Asia Pacific Accountants and we will take over the leadership of the South Asian Federation of Accounts next year. Hence we will have the leadership of the entire Asia Pacific Accounting fraternity.

These have resulted in us creating a world class accounting frame work, standards and systems in the country. Sri Lanka is considered as a country that is very progressive and world class in accounting and thus having accounting infrastructure that is not second to any other country in the world.

We have now embarked on initiatives to uplift the accounting and financial reporting standards of Public Sector. We have up to now formulated 10 Sri Lanka Public Sector Accounting Standards and Secretary Treasury have issued them through a circular for government agencies to comply with them. We are now training the accounting personnel of some of the government agencies to implement these standards. We will very soon see a remarkable transformation in financial reporting standards in the public sector. With this transformation we intend to initiate an Annual Reports Awards competition for the Public sector as well.

To support all these, in collaboration with Securities and Exchange Commission, CA Sri Lanka has being issuing best practice guideline on corporate governance for over a decade. These best practice guide lines have been bench marked against best practices across the world and is comparable to corporate governance standards anywhere in the world.

In order to facilitate effective implementation of corporate governance in the corporate environment in the country, we launched recently a corporate directors program to impart knowledge and skills among the corporate directors in relation to SEC and CSE rules and regulations, financial reporting, risk management, independence requirements and host of other pertinent topics for corporate directors, all of which are very important corporate governance requirements.

A very important element in accounting, financial reporting, and corporate governance in a corporate body is the annual report. We have been very focused in recognizing the corporates producing best annual reports that adhere good principles and best practices which will allow to create a more responsible and accountable corporate world ensuring sustainable growth of not only the corporate entities but the country as a whole. In this respect we have incorporated concepts of sustainable reporting and integrated reporting in to the guidelines of producing annual reports.

We hope these world class accounting infrastructure, framework, related tools, systems and process we have created will help people and society to demand and establish the required standards, norms of transparency, accountability and good governance in the country which can result in the country realizing its full potential.

The corporate world must realize it has a responsibility towards the society when they use the immunity of limited liability, which is a license to do business with the community or society with liability limited to only amounts invested as capital in the company. This means they are responsible and accountable to the community and society for their actions and owe a duty of care, to do business in an ethical and a sustainable manner, to avoid a cost to society.

The annual report becomes a very important tool in this respect as it is the document that tells the story of what a company is doing. Therefore, we want this document to tell the correct story in a very concise manner and in a manner that it will be easily understood and provide an idea as to how the company will evolve and how effectively it is integrating with society and the environment. This has become so important as the world is changing so fast and the environment has become so complex that life span of companies have become short. Today the average life span of company is 40 years only and 1/3 of the companies that are set-up close down within 10 years of starting operations. Hence we want companies to approach business in sustainable manner integrating well in to the complex world and society, and we are using the annual report as a tool to get companies to approach business in this manner.

Therefore, you will realize how important the annual reports awards is in the context of creating responsible, accountable and a sustainable corporate world and 50 years is a very important milestone in the journey we have been travelling in this direction.