(Faizal Salieh – Chairman SLID, Viraj Dayaratne – Chairman, Securities & Exchange Commission, Hon. Ajith Nivard Cabraal – State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms)
Faizal Salieh was unanimously elected as the Chairman of The Sri Lanka Institute of Directors (SLID) for the year 2021/22 at the fully virtual Annual Membership Meeting held on 11th August 2021. Faizal is a veteran banker with many years of leadership experience as a Board director across several industries in banking, insurance, fund management, stockbroking, trading, manufacturing, and education.
Aroshi Nanayakkara and Dinesh Weerakkody were elected as Senior Vice Chairperson and Vice Chairman respectively. Prakash Schaffter, Vish Govindasamy, Dilshan Rodrigo, Nadija Tambiah,. Aruni Rajakarier, Ravi Abeysuriya, Manohari Abeyesekera and Charaka Perera were elected to the Governing Council with Rasakanth Rasiah, the Immediate Past Chairman serving, in an ex-officio capacity. Hon. Ajith Nivard Cabraal – State Minister of Finance, Capital Markets and State Enterprise Reforms, was the Chief Guest and Viraj Dayaratne – Chairman of Securities & Exchange Commission participated as the Guest of Honour at the meeting.
The outgoing Chairman, Rasakanth Rasiah, acknowledged the contributions and initiatives made by the Council during his term of office amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Faizal Salieh paid a glowing tribute to all the past chairmen of SLID for their leadership of the Institute since its inception in 2000. He specifically mentioned that Rasiah and the Council had held the reigns remarkably well under tough operating conditions. He spoke about the key initiatives launched by the Institute to build leadership caliber at the Board level. On the Board Diversity Agenda, he said “our approach is through the larger business case for diversity in functional skills, experience, age, gender, and ethnicity”. He urged all company Boards to increase the admission of women and to take pride in making disclosures on this in their company annual reports. “We believe that is a much preferable option to legally mandating. We also need to create Male Champions in every company for promoting women on Boards” he said.
Salieh said “Corporate governance is a strategic imperative and not just a matter for compliance. Governance today is not just about technology. It’s about balance, judgement, ethics and selecting the right people. As business models move away from linear to disruptive models, directors have to sharpen and widen their knowledge and skills to cope with the new challenges. We at SLID will strive to uphold and promote the principles of good governance beyond the realm of corporate boardrooms. For good governance to prevail, be effective and sustainable at the corporate sector and company level, it must also be inspired, accepted and established as a value standard and best practice at the macro-country level. This is a challenge that we as a nation should not walk away from, but unitedly come together to accomplish and uphold at all times”.
On Sri Lanka’s public sector, Salieh said “We cannot underestimate the importance, value and relevance of our public institutions. We need to build and strengthen them and enable their journey with sustained good governance despite the challenges. We are prepared to offer our services and work with the Government in this regard. In recognition of this need, we amended our rulebooks in 2011 to allow directors of public sector institutions and enterprises to become members and benefit from our various training, advisory and networking services. SLID looks forward to working closely with the Hon. Minister in this area”. Delighted by Minister Cabraal’s participation at this event, Salieh said that the Minister is a key and active person in the current Government, had at one time gallantly and remarkably spearheaded the drive for good corporate governance in the private sector, and that he could add immense value towards building good governance standards and best practices across both the State and Business sectors of the country.
The new Chairman said that SLID will leverage on its solid base of skilled and experienced senior directors, expert advisory panels, international connections and strategic collaborations to support, develop and enable its growing membership base of young directors to be future-ready and reach their aspirations, whilst continuing to enable the older directors to sharpen their skills, and stay current and relevant. “We at SLID shall stay committed to pursuing our mission towards preparing and building better Directors, better Boards and better Companies through and beyond this pandemic. That is our timeless commitment” he concluded.
Speaking next, the Chief Guest Minister Ajith Nivard Cabraal said “It is an opportune time for us to have an engagement between the directors of public enterprises and SLID to see how best we can work together to enhance the skills of those who are managing public assets which are the assets of the country and which need to yield good results if we are all to benefit. It is important for us to ensure that those who have been entrusted with these assets are prepared for that function in a methodical, scientific manner. I am happy that the private sector is taking the time and effort to train those who are directors of the private sector assets under management. In the same way, I think we may need to do that for the directors who are stewards of those public enterprises that are huge in comparison, and need to provide the services to the country in a methodical, scientific manner that is viable as far as our functions are concerned”. The Minister said that there were approximately 417 public sector institutions and enterprises, several of them much larger than some of the private sector institutions and that he would like to take on the offer made by the SLID Chairman to support their further development.
Minister Cabraal said “We need to ensure that those who are at the helm of affairs of these public institutions are able to deliver results during the time that they are at the head of the institutions. It is a tough call with expectations being huge, the balancing that they have to do of the different interests such as business, shareholders, employees, and consumers who are the public of this country. Sometimes what we see on the surface being what is delivered or the outcome that is expected from an economic sense is not the only outcome that is expected when considering certain public institutions. As such, it is a bigger challenge. As the Minister entrusted with the responsibility for public enterprise reforms, I am conscious of that deep necessity to ensure a balance of all these different competing interests and we have been endeavouring to do that” and further added that- in the quest to do things better and smarter “the avenues of cooperation with SLID can be explored further to deliver dynamism in the public sector”.