The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) held its Annual Membership Meeting (AMM) recently with over 85 members present at this momentous evening when the leadership of the institute changed hands.
Shiromal Cooray completed her term as Chairperson and at the AMM Preethi Jayawardena was elected unanimously as the new Chairman of the SLID for the year 2017/18.
The other officials elected to the Council of Members for the year 2017/18 were Rasakantha Rasiah as Senior Vice Chairman, Faizal Salieh as Vice Chairman and Dilani Alagaratnam, Aroshi Nanayakkara, Dinesh Weerakkody, Prakash Schaffter and Vish Govindasamy. Dilshan Rodrigo was elected to fill the vacancy created by Council Member Nilanthi Sivapragasagam.
The annual report and financial statements for the period ending March 31, 2017 were presented and approved by the membership.
In his first address as Chairman of the SLID, Jayawardena acknowledged the many contributions made by the past Council Members to the development of the SLID. He reminisced that when the SLID started in the early 2000s, the meetings were held at the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC). At that time people used to question whether the SLID was part of the CCC.
Jayawardena spoke of how Cooray had one day said to him “enough is enough!” and together with the others had assisted in making the SLID an independent entity. At that time seed capital was provided by the Carsons group, Chemanex, Hatton National Bank, the Jetwing group and John Keells group in aid to establish and develop the SLID as an independent body.
The new chairman stressed on how the promotion of gender diversity within the SLID has helped bring the organisation even further with more drive and fresh ideas. Prideful of how far the organisation had come, Jayawardena jokingly remarked that people now ask him if the CCC is part of the SLID.
Speaking of the economy of Sri Lanka, Jayawardena stressed on the importance of foreign direct investment and how it is essential in the expansion of the country’s economic growth.
He said, “The abundance of resources present in Sri Lanka and the converse lack of foreign funding do not match up well, given the potential for growth displayed by our private sector.”
He also stated that the SLID aspires to be a driving force to improve the conditions of our economy, even more than it already has, in order to change the conditions of the economy “slowly, but surely!”
In his opening remarks, the chief guest for the evening, Special Assignment Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama, thanked the SLID for the contributions it had made in the improvement of the economy of Sri Lanka. He asserted that the prevailing government strongly believes that “the private sector is the motor of growth”. He urged the members of the SLID to continue the growth in their companies which would help the country as a whole.
Dr. Amunugama explained that Sri Lanka’s unique social structure makes way for a different structure of ownership which is different from the known structure of where the rich and powerful run all of the private sector, to one where many invest and participate at the top level of the private sector and collectively reap the benefits of its growth; moving the private sector regime of Sri Lanka from capitalistic moguls to that of modern corporations.
He further stated that the prevailing government is looking into ways to further push this model on the population to encourage collective growth. The issue faced however is how to keep the returns from investment at a more attractive rate than offered by the prevailing savings system offered by banks.
Speaking on the opportunities opening up for the growth of trade and industry in the Asian region, the minister pointed to the regional growth in population, especially in India which has a rapidly increasing middle class. This of course, opens many doors in terms of markets to enter and profit from for the private sector of Sri Lanka