The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) has
been forced to suspend its Sri Lanka divisional council following a
conflict in opinions on management operations.

The Sri Lanka office has been established for 35 years and is
the institute’s largest base outside the UK. CIMA has more than
15,000 students and members in the South East Asian nation.

The suspension decision was made by the institute’s governing
body after recommendations from an independent review.

CIMA president Glynn Lowth said in a statement that the Sri
Lankan division had been put at risk due to governance failures and
a lack of adherence to CIMA’s global strategic goals and rules.

Robin Vaughan, the UK-based director of professional standards
told The Accountant that although the Sri Lankan division
had evidently honourable views regarding governance and operations,
these did not meet the strategies set by the global body.

“We have policies on everything you can think of,” Vaughan said.
“For example, we have policies about services for members, about
recruiting students and new members, about how office management
should be conducted in terms of budgetary processes and human
resource processes, and we have definitive business objectives.

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By GlobalData

“On all of these areas we increasingly found ourselves not being
at one with our colleagues in Sri Lanka. That sadly proved
difficult and started to cause misunderstandings, which is why we
opted for an independent council to review the situation. We wanted
to behave absolutely properly and respectably.

“There is nothing wrong with having different views but they
cannot be presented as if they are CIMA when they are not CIMA,” he
added.

Strong disagreement

The suspended president of CIMA Sri Lanka, Gowri Shankar,
disagreed with the claims issued by the governing body. She said
the statements come as a “rude shock” to the local division and are
“baseless”.

Shankar said she found the suspension extremely disappointing
considering that
no specific instances or examples were pointed out.

She added that failures of governance following the appointment
of CIMA Sri Lanka chief executive Bradley Emerson in 2007 were
reported to CIMA UK headquarters but were ignored.

“The current council of the Sri Lanka division were duly elected
into office by the Sri Lankan membership in July this year at a
properly convened annual general meeting through a democratic
process at which a representative of the London office was also
present,” Shankar said.

“Hence it is surprising that within a matter of a few months
unspecified issues of governance have surfaced against the local
council.

“In fact, specific issues of failure on the part of the London
office to follow accepted practices of good governance that CIMA
stands for, were pointed out in resolutions and letters etcetera
over a period of 18 months.

“Therefore I believe this action to be very serious and
short-sighted.”

No choice

Vaughan said Shankar’s comments are untrue.

He added that despite on-going advice and guidance given to the
Sri Lankan divisional council over quite a significant period of
time, the council remained determined to proceed with its own views
and therefore CIMA was left with no choice but to remove it.

Vaughan said the suspension will have no impact on the service
that CIMA Sri Lanka provides and that all members, students and
employers will remain unaffected.

A consultative body of at least three members and other honorary
officers will be appointed by Lowth to serve in Sri Lanka during
the suspension period.

Vaughan said what happens after the suspension period will
depend on the feedback from the consultative body.

Melanie White