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English, Lingua Franca

Jan 29, 2011 2:22:46 PM - thesundayleader.lk

Sujeewa Mudalige

English is the language of business, an accountant said. Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL) President Sujeewa Mudalige speaking at a function in Colombo on Monday said that one may have the best of qualifications, but if one doesn’t know English, one cannot get far in life.
Mudalige said that he knows of a bright student from Mahinda College Galle who got the best A’Level results in Commerce and who joined the Institute in 2002, whilst being a student at Sri Jayewardenepura University.
He passed the foundation exam with flying colours, but he did it in Sinhala. He was brought to me for employment. I insisted that he sit for the rest of his exams in English. He then laboured and learnt the language and got through the rest of the exams, also  with flying colours.
He is now employed by one of the largest financial houses in UK, drawing an annual salary of Great Britain Pounds 100,000 and attributes his success to English, and not to his qualifications, said Mudalige.
Prior to leaving for this appointment in the UK, he had turned down an offer for employment at another UK firm, in their branch office in Sri Lanka, as its finance manager.
Because of his success, he married off his three elder brothers who are in the army, built his parents a beautiful house and at 28 years of age he himself is going to get married, said Mudalige.
The occasion was the inauguration of the financial English course for ICASL students conducted by Cambridge University.
Tony Reilly, Country Director British Council, in his speech , quoting an article that appeared in the London Times of December 29, 2010 under the heading “National Specialty Sri Lanka Can Count On” said that  the story referred to Sri Lankans’ proficiency in accountancy, and the enormous potential that that brings to the country in the sphere of financial services outsourcing, thereby helping it to retain its talent pool in the island, rather than  them having to seek greener pastures overseas.