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December 14, 2008

Conflict of opinions sees CIMA suspend Sri Lanka division council

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.

“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

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