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.
Sampath Bank continues to partner Central Bank on promoting QR payments
Sampath Bank PLC joined hands with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) yet again to raise awareness and increase acceptance and usage of LANKAQR, the common Quick Response (QR) code standard for the country that was introduced in 2020.
Encouraging consumers to adopt LANKAQR for their day to day transactions, Sampath Bank held a 2-day promotional drive at one of Colombo’s latest outdoor dining destinations, Dining Capsule at Baladaksha Mawatha, near Galle Face Green on the 23rd and 24th of January.
Dharmasri Kumaratunga, Director – Payments and Settlements, Central Bank of Sri Lanka; Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC; and Tharaka Ranwala, Head of Operations and Group Chief Marketing Officer, Sampath Bank PLC, took part in the ceremonial launch of this initiative together with other senior representatives.
The Bank offered 25% cash back on payments made with the LANKAQR-enabled Sampath WePay digital payments mobile application at Dunhinda Colombo, Roots, Grand Monarch, Street Wok, Lavinia, Spice Junction, Giovanni’s Pizza al Taglio and BoxBar outlets at the Dining Capsule during this period.
“Offering greater convenience and security, technology continues to transform the way we conduct our day to day transactions. This is becoming increasingly true in Sri Lanka too, where consumers and businesses are actively adopting digital payments,” said Nanda Fernando, Managing Director, Sampath Bank PLC. “At Sampath Bank we have always focused on leveraging emerging technologies and delivering market relevant solutions that add value to our customers around the island. In line with this, we are delighted to partner with the Central Bank of Sri Lanka on driving the acceptance and usage of LANKAQR.”
“Across Sri Lanka, a growing number of merchants and consumers are getting on board the LANKAQR ecosystem and beginning to appreciate the value offered by QR based payments. We are witnessing this phenomenon with Sampath WePay, the secure, one stop digital wallet from Sampath Bank that allows users to store all types of financial instruments from any bank and carry out a wide range of real-time online transactions.
Taking cashless transactions across the country
The Central Bank of Sri Lanka in coordination with leading financial institutions and telcos in the country set in motion the ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ promotional campaign with a monumental event on January, 23. The ‘Rata Purama LANKAQR’ initiative represents the second phase of an island-wide campaign commenced late last year to introduce LANKAQR as the standard for mobile phone and digital payments countrywide, in moving towards a cashless and digitally-savvy society plus greater financial inclusion across Sri Lanka.
Held at Diyatha Uyana, Battaramulla, the event was graced by the Chief Guest, Ajith Nivard Cabraal, State Minister of Money & Capital Market and State Enterprise Reforms, Ms. Yvette Fernando, Deputy Governor CBSL and the chairperson of the National Payments Council, D. Kumaratunge, Director Payments and Settlements – CBSL, and Thilak Piyadigama, chairman – CBSL appointed LANKAQR Committee/CEO SDB bank, among other distinguished guests.
The Colombo-leg of the LANKAQR national campaign, drawing on the participation of numerous high-profile guests plus the island’s top banks and financial institutions, aimed to advance the program’s overall vision of promoting digital transactions as the new norm and included city-wide promotions, covering major commercial locations in and around the city.
Developed by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, LANKAQR is a common Quick Response (QR) code standard, and its adoption by most major financial institutions in Sri Lanka is a progressive step on the path to Sri Lankans fully embracing a future that is inevitably digital, gradually leading to an entirely cashless mode of transaction.
The LANKAQR system will allow banks, financial institutions and telcos, through their digital payment apps and platforms, to facilitate fast, secure and low cost digital payments to any merchant or service provider. LANKAQR provides customers with a mechanism for payment for all their needs ranging from groceries, healthcare to utilities, and even the purchase of goods from street-side vendors, directly from their bank account through the use of any LANKAQR-compliant mobile payment app.
SLT-MOBITEL gives ‘Power to Your Dreams’ with special connectivity offers
SLT-MOBITEL is all set to launch the ‘Power to Your Dreams – සිහිනයට සවියක්’ campaign to provide the latest connectivity solutions to microbusinesses on the of January, 25 the company announced recently. This program will provide ICT solutions packages encompassing products and services essential for microbusinesses, at maximum affordability.
Understanding the connectivity needs of the microbusiness segment, the promotion provides them solutions that fulfil their requirements. Accordingly, communication, business networking, cloud technology, entertainment & IoT, communications devices and business infrastructure services for various market segments within the microbusiness ecosystem is provided utilising SLT-MOBITEL products and services such as voice & mobile telephony, 4G LTE, SLT Broadband, SLT Fibre and Peo TV services.
Speaking on the planned promotion, Sanjeewa Jayamaha, General Manager – SME Business Development, Sri Lanka Telecom stated, “Microbusinesses are the bedrock of Sri Lanka’s economic activity, supporting day to day transactions for millions of people. It is vitally important that they receive the full benefit of the connectivity solutions offered by the national ICT solutions provider, Sri Lankan Telecom. The brand unification of SLT-MOBITEL means now we can offer a full bouquet of products and services to our clients. This promotion will ensure that microbusinesses from various segments can now access the connectivity solutions most important for their businesses to thrive.”
Microbusinesses operating in entertainment and leisure, fashion and beauty, daily essentials, medical and health care, education, special occasion services, financial services, e-commerce and software development, professional services, construction support and transportation and delivery services will be able to benefit from bespoke packages crafted by SLT-MOBITEL with their specific industry needs taken into consideration.
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