BDO Heads successfully conclude their visit to Sri Lanka

08 March 2017

Martin van Roekel, the global CEO of BDO, and Stephen Darley, CEO, Asia Pacific, were in Sri Lanka from 21 to 22 February. They met the BDO staff of Sri Lanka, heads of Government institutions, key clients of BDO Sri Lanka, officials of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka and regulators.

Martin van Roekel, the global CEO of BDO, and Stephen Darley, CEO, Asia Pacific, were in Sri Lanka from 21 to 22 February. They met the BDO staff of Sri Lanka, heads of Government institutions, key clients of BDO Sri Lanka, officials of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka and regulators.

Martin was very impressed with the general growth momentum witnessed in the Sri Lankan economy post the conflict era. He mentioned that he was happy to see the development that was taking place in Sri Lanka and was surprised to see the number of skyscrapers dotting the Colombo skies. 

BDO Sri Lanka made a presentation for the benefit of the guests, explaining macro level fiscal aspects of the economy in Sri Lanka. The BDO Sri Lanka team further discussed with Martin and Stephen about the opportunities available in Sri Lanka for foreign investors. It was highlighted that the tourism industry has seen a tremendous growth in the past few years, with more tourists visiting Sri Lanka, both from the east and the west. 

Stephen mentioned that he found the financial advisory practice of BDO Sri Lanka, to be technically competent and updated about the latest trends in the Industry. He encouraged the BDO staff to connect with other professionals across the network, in order to share their expertise on a Global platform for the improvement of the BDO network.

Both Martin and Stephen met Minister of Finance Ravi Karunanayake and discussed in detail the economic developments that are taking place both in Sri Lanka and globally. The Minister explained that the Ministry is currently implementing a series of fiscal reforms in order to manage budget deficit including drafting a new Income Tax law, with the assistance of the IMF. 

The Government is also currently devising a strategy to attract more foreign investment into Sri Lanka through fiscal and other incentives. He also noted the contributions made by BDO Sri Lanka to the development story of the country. Stephen was very positive about the economic performance of the country and in such a context, he stated that the country is very well poised to draw new investments from overseas. 

The office bearers of CA Sri Lanka, President Lasantha Wickremasinghe, Vice President Jagath Perera and CEO Aruna Alwis warmly welcomed the guests at the CA Sri Lanka office in Colombo 07. It was a great opportunity for CA to showcase the technical competence and prowess of Chartered Accountants in Sri Lanka, in the field of accounting and to impress upon Martin and Stephen, the breadth and depth of the work the Institute has done for accounting professionals. 

The CA President explained that the work done by the Institute has an impact not only locally, but also regionally and globally. Martin who is working closely with many accounting professionals across the world on a global platform also shared his views on possible improvements on how accounting professionals in Sri Lanka may be better equipped to face the demands of the global market.

Sri Lanka Accounting and Auditing Standards Monitoring Board (SLAASMB) Chairman Lakshman Nandasiri and SLAASMB Director General Wasantha Geeganage were enthusiastic about the ideas shared by Martin on the global trends on monitoring and compliance through review of financial statements and firms. 

The SLAASMB Chairman in turn informed that the IFIAR workshop will be held in Sri Lanka in 2017, as the Government has granted approval for this event to be held in Sri Lanka. This is considered to be a milestone for the regulator in Sri Lanka. Anusha and Gayani, senior officers of SLAASMB, made a presentation about the regulatory review process for the benefit of the delegates.

The heads of BDO also visited the Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE), where they were warmly welcomed by CSE Chairman Vajira Kulathilake and CSE Director General Rajeeva Bandaranayake. It was observed that the initiatives taken by the CSE to promote non-listed entities to be listed in the Main Board or DiriSavi Board to ensure better transparency and accessibility was remarkable. Further the move to introduce a SME Board was felt to be a progressive step in expanding the capital markets in Sri Lanka.

The visitors from BDO also met Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Thilak Karunaratne and SEC Director General Vajira Wijegunawardena to discuss the capital markets in Sri Lanka. Stephen explained that China has a significant influence in the region with many Chinese investors making investments in other countries in Asia. This is especially apparent after the changes being made in the foreign policy of US. The officials of the SEC also explained the impact of global policy shifts to the Sri Lankan capital market and the extended role the regulator is playing to maintain a level playing field. Ceylon Chamber of Commerce Chairman Samantha Ranatunga together with CEO Dhara Wijayatileke warmly welcomed the heads of BDO. Samantha and Dhara explained the sector-wise performance of companies in Sri Lanka. The delegates were keen to understand the practical difficulties faced by investors during project implementation and execution, especially for start-ups with foreign investors. 

Martin and Stephen also met Insurance Board of Sri Lanka Chairperson Indrani Weeratunga. After discussing the trends witnessed in the insurance industry globally, Weeratunga explained that in Sri Lanka, we have recently segregated the life insurance businesses from general insurance businesses. This allows to better manage the risks associated with insurance business. Further, the benefits of creating contributory pension plans to cover the ageing population of the country was also discussed in detail.

BDO Sri Lanka had organised a cocktail event, inviting CEOs of several companies from the apparel, tea, manufacturing, banking, insurance and numerous other industry sectors. Officials of regulatory and statutory bodies were also present at the event. Members from academia also graced the occasion. It gave Martin and Stephen the opportunity to mingle with key clients of BDO Sri Lanka and other top officials of the business fraternity. 

BDO is an international network of public accounting, tax and advisory firms which perform professional services under the name of BDO. As of 2016, BDO has member firms in 158 countries, employs around 67,000 partners and staff in over 1,400 offices throughout the world, and is the fifth largest professional services network globally. 

BDO Partners in Sri Lanka is a firm of Chartered Accountants operating since 1958, providing Auditing, Accounting, Taxation and other related services to its clients over the years. Membership of the network enables BDO Sri Lanka to deliver quality service at the highest level. The BDO brands stands for exceptional client service delivered by exceptional people.