Prof. Furkhan worked towards getting accountancy recognised

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The professor was a leading figure in CIMA’s pantheon of personalities 
Prof. Furkhan convinced members that their future lay in coming together to work for their profession


By 1965 much change had occurred in the socio political environment of Sri Lanka. Policies that were pro-western had quite violently been overtaken by socialist thought. Nationalization of many private sector enterprises, the entry of rural masses to administration through universal free education and the reorganisation of Government institutions and the dethroning of English as the main language of administration had brought about vast changes in every avenue of life.

The profession of Accountancy was not widely known and practised in Sri Lanka in the first half of the twentieth century. But in 1959 Parliament passed an Act establishing the  Institute Of Chartered Accountants which formalised their presence in the business community to provide financial guidance and for promoting the theory and practice of Accountancy.  However the British Body, The Institute Of Cost And Works Accountants was present in the country even though it was not formally organised. Members of ICWA were working mostly in the private sector while the Chartered members dominated the Government Sector. With this backdrop it was obvious that the Chartered members had greater visibility and were consulted in Governmental, financial, monetary and tax issues.

In the country that was experiencing violent changes, a group of 21 Cost And Works Accountants came together in 1965 to form The Ceylon Association of Cost and Works Accountants and to sign an agreement forming an Association which was later to be duly incorporated by the Registrar of Companies At this time the Cost Accountants were convinced that they, even though they had an internationally recognised qualification, were not adequately recognised in the country. A lead figure in this group Prof. MTA Furkhan, who was working at Walkers, convinced members that their future lay in coming together to work for their profession. With him were PN Wicremasuriya, MV Theagarajah, Karthkeyar, PS Mahawatte and several others.

By 1987 ICMA had grown in stature. The Branch was performing well. In 1985,at an ICMA competition. the Sri Lanka Branch was considered the best ICMA Branch in the world

Prof Furkhan invited Frank Hayhurst an English Cost Accountant working at Walkers also to join. It was this group that drove the profession of Cost Accountancy forward. Hayhurst was invited to be first President. The signed document was the authority the members had of the incorporation of the Association. Later in the 1980s Prof Furkhan presented the framed parchment of signatures which he had preserved, to the office. The Council decided that it should be hung at the head of the Council room.It is now a very valued document in their possession. 
There was so much personal commitment among the early members. They spent their own resources in promoting the qualification. They provided text books internships and working opportunities to new recruits. Prof Furkhan donated a cupboard to house the text books. This was the first piece of furniture that the office had. It is still preserved in the office.

To begin with they didn’t have a permanent abode. They moved from Maitland place to Thunmulla and to Skelton Road. With each move the office space too became larger to cater to the growing student population. 

In addition to overseeing the Association’s office work Prof. Furkhan undertook teaching the recruits. He was a totally committed teacher who wanted to see the best accountants come out of the system. 

With growth The Ceylon Association became the Sri Lanka Branch while in London the Body changed its name to Institute Of Cost And Management Accountants. Prof. Furkhan held office and served in several capacities. He chaired several committees in addition to being President. He contributed to all seminars and conferences organised by ICMA. By 1987 ICMA had grown in stature. The Branch was performing well. In 1985,at an ICMA competition. the Sri Lanka Branch was considered the best ICMA Branch in the world and was awarded a cash prize. Tissa Manakkara, the incumbent President went to England at his own expense to receive the prize. Now ICMA  members commanded respect and had amply shown the business world they could deliver so much so that when they asked the Government for land to construct a building to house the secretariat, they complied and allocated 25 perches at Elvitigala Mawatha. The Council however was divided in accepting this offer because they wished for a more central place. However there wasn’t an alternative and the Council accepted the offer. 

This was the first and only  freehold building CIMA had anywhere in the world and London took a great interest in it. The President and an entourage arrived from London for the Opening Ceremony in 1987. Prof Furkhan, Lakshman Hettiaratchi and MV Theagarajah were the senior members who welcomed the delegation. The Council was able to invite the President of the country J.R Jayewardene, and Minister Gamini Dissanayake, the minister who enabled the Council to obtain land, for the ceremony. This was a great victory for CIMA. It showed that it had achieved the recognition it sought under Prof. Furkhan’s direction.

Thus Prof Furkhan and the Council were able to obtain the required visibility for CIMA. Its members came to be greatly respected consulted and were appointed to high places. London made Sri Lanka a regular destination in their professional itinerary. They were proud of Sri Lanka’s achievement and called the country, “The jewel in the crown of CIMA.”
(The writer can be reached at [email protected])

Courtesy Daily Mirror

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Disclaimer: Prof. Furkhan worked towards getting accountancy recognised - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect point-of-view

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