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SLID hosts webinar on ‘The Integrity Agenda’

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The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID), in collaboration with its knowledge sharing partner Ernst & Young (EY), held a timely webinar discussion recently on “The Integrity Agenda – the Heightened Role of Boards”.

The session focused on how directors could steer their companies with integrity in the current environment. The panel comprised of Sunil Wijesinha, chairman of United Motors PLC, Watawala Plantations PLC and RIL Property PLC, Murtaza Esufally, chairman of Hemas Hospitals, Hemas Pharmaceuticals, Managing Director of Morison PLC and Non-Executive chairman of the Center for Poverty Analysis with Hiranthi Fonseka, Partner of Ernst & Young as the moderator. The keynote presentation was made by EY’s ASEAN Forensic & Integrity Services Leader Ramesh Moosa. The webinar was an initiative taken by the Institute’s INED Forum and was extended to all SLID members as well as the clients of EY in Sri Lanka.

“In this social media driven world, we know that adverse news travels rapidly. Any event of fraud could severely impact an organization’s reputation and will involve a great deal of cost and effort to recover from such damaging, adverse revelation. An investigative process will negatively impact the morale of the management and employees, and in regulated industries it will attract very close scrutiny by the regulators” said Ramesh Moosa while identifying asset misappropriations, bribery and corruption, and financial statement fraud as common fraud schemes.

He added that the opportunity to commit fraud in current times is heightened by work force reductions and displacements which adversely affected the operation of internal controls and segregation of duties; remote working may expose access controls to cyber compromises and management overrides and workarounds posed higher risks.

“In the current times, the pressure and opportunity to commit fraud are heightened as is its rationalization” he further stated.

Sharing insights from EY’s Global Integrity Report 2020, a global survey which involved about 3600 respondents, Moosa said that 90% of the survey respondents believed that Covid-19 posed a risk to ethical business conduct in their organizations. Commenting on the role of a Board director, he said that Board directors have a role to ensure performance and conformance and that the relationship between these two should be viewed as a symbiotic relationship where conformance supports performance which will enable integrity led organizations to flourish.

“Defining what integrity means to the business and investing in it, leveraging technology and data to automate, detect and monitor risk indicators, transforming the compliance function and programs to be forward-looking and developing a robust crisis response capability that would secure stakeholders’ trust are four action points for Boards” said Moosa.

Responding to the moderator’s request to provide his views on the Integrity Agenda for Sri Lankan companies, panelist Murtaza Esufally said that integrity, credibility and reputation have always been extremely important.

“In Sri Lanka’s quest for development, we need FDIs and technology transfers to Sri Lankan companies through JVs. Companies in Singapore, Hong Kong, Holland, UK and Ireland get the highest FDIs since they have built a culture of integrity and trust in institutions in those countries” he added.

Panelist Sunil Wijesinha said that the majority of Boards in Sri Lanka do give a high priority to the Integrity Agenda and that it varies according to whether or not the company is a public listed company or is in a regulated industry.

“Over the last 10 years we have seen the regulators tightening the regulations. Hence, there is a lot of pressure on Boards to make sure that the integrity of financial reports and business operations are accurate without any fraud. There is a huge responsibility on the Boards and senior management. During the current Covid times, we have to be careful of the pressure to perform which is much more complex due to the incentives that are being given. I always promote the concept of whistle blowing which can bring about great benefits” he added.

He also said that while the private sector has gone to great lengths to introduce regulations and best practices, it is strongly recommended that the public sector follows suit.

Moosa’s presentation was followed by a fruitful Question and Answer session with the participation of the audience. Questions were raised with regard to the practical issues and the panelists responded drawing from their own experiences.

Finally in her closing remarks, the moderator Hiranthi Fonseka observed that whilst integrity and trust are not new to Sri Lankans, the discussion on the Integrity Agenda is actually a wakeup call for Boards to become more vigilant.



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SLT-MOBITEL AkazaLMS enables corporate employee capability development

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As SLT-MOBITEL, the National ICT solutions service provider, continues to play a pivotal role in driving Sri Lanka’s digital transformation through its Cloud-managed offering, SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS takes centre-stage as the nation’s leading Learning Management System (LMS). SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS offers a unique, locally developed, comprehensive enterprise learning solution designed to cater to diverse training needs without compromising on quality.

Commenting on the initiative Chief Enterprise & Wholesale Officer of SLT, Lakmal Jayasinghe said “Especially in today’s competitive environment where human capital is more important than ever, companies need to create a learning strategy that aligns to robust curricula, employing relevant and available learning methods and technology. Addressing this need, SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS Cloud is an enterprise e-learning solution hosted in Sri Lanka on the top of a private cloud, providing corporate and institutional customers the ability to deliver their own learning material to their users with zero cost infrastructure. With greater convenience and without additional IT resources, customers have access to their own training needs via a simple web browser”.

Empowering corporates and educational institutes, SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS is a comprehensive locally developed platform, containing a self-portal where the user develops their own e-learning and purchase it as a SaaS product. Especially during these challenging times, when classroom lectures are not possible and distance learning methods vital, the SLT-Mobitel AkazaLMS facilitates exams, assignments, quizzes, etc. tailor-made and customised for corporates and educational institutes targeting their own specific needs.

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LIOC shows stability in earnings and margins compared to volatility during previous years

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First Capital expects stability in LIOC earnings and margins ahead, compared to the significant volatility witnessed during the previous years.

“With the new pricing formula, we expect a stable outlook for LIOC which is currently trading at a TTM PER of 7.5x on FY22 earnings while also trading at a PBV of 1.5x”, they said.

“The government’s implementation of the new fuel pricing formula on 24th May 22 includes all costs incurred in importing, unloading, distributing to the stations and taxes. With that, fuel prices will be revised on a monthly basis, and if necessary, it will be reviewed every two weeks. Accordingly, the next price revision was scheduled for 24th Jun 22. Considering the price revision, In addition to that, Sri Lanka’s Cabinet has approved a bill to impose a 2.5% tax on companies with an annual turnover of LKR 120.0Mn, which will only have a marginal effect on company margins.”

“With regards to investment in joint venture, LIOC has invested in Trinco Petroleum Terminal (Pvt) Ltd (TPT) in Jan-22 and acquired 49% of the stake with CPC which holds 51% of the ownership of TPT in order to develop 61 tanks at the Trincomalee Oil Tank Farm and allied facilities in the Upper Tank Farm of the China Bay Oil Tank Farm. Also, LIOC has entered into a Lease of State Land with the Government of Sri Lanka for a term of fifty years to develop the Lower Tank Farm of the China Bay Oil Tank Farm,” First Capital said.

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Apprenticeship programme in partnership with Hatch MakerStudio and Vocational Training Authority

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From left: : Krishantha Pathiraja, Chairman at Palmyrah Development Board, Florian Manderschied, Head Maker at Hatch MakerStudio, Brindha Selvadurai, CEO and Co- Founder, Hatch, Eranga Basnayake, CEO and Chairman of Vocational Training Authority, Mahesh Ariyarathne, Vice Chairman of VTA

The next generation of Sri Lanka’s industry workforce is currently studying at Technical and Vocational Education and Training institutes (​​TVET) all over the country. Since the manufacturing technology is under permanent development, the requirements for TVET graduates have also evolved. In order to address the industry’s needs for skilled and competent workers, the Vocational Training Authority and Hatch MakerStudio have joined forces to pilot an innovative apprenticeship programme.

The apprenticeship programme is designed for students in the field of mechatronics, robotics, automation and CNC-technologies and is focusing on the upskill, entrepreneurial mindset and problem solving capabilities. Together with industry partners, the selected apprentices will undergo a one month training programme at Hatch MakerStudio before being placed in the companies. The programme comprises of:

Product development training

Software and rapid prototyping training

Problem solving and design thinking exercises

During the course of the apprenticeship, Hatch MakerStudio will provide supervision and support for both the apprentices and companies, in order to ensure effective skills development and utilization of working power. Students with their own specific product ideas and business models can choose Hatch MakerStudio as their place of apprenticeship.

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