Photo Credit - Kasun GunasekeraAnnual Forum 2015 of Institute of Quantity Surveyors Sri Lanka was held on 2nd October 2015 at the Hilton Colombo Residences, graced by many guests and Members.

The Construction Industry provides the final product of most major investments, i.e. the built facility. Hence, its cost becomes one of the major concerns of investment. In this background “Construction cost impact on investment – cause and effect” was selected by the IQSSL as the theme of the Annual Forum 2015.

Forum proceedings commenced with President, Ch. QS. Mr. Nishantha Wickramasinghe’s welcome speech which highlighted the role of Quantity Surveyors and way forward for development of national economy.

Photo Credit - Kasun GunasekeraAddressing the gathering, Chief Guest, Minister of Megapolis and Western Development, Honourable Patali Champika Ranawaka agreed that the theme is timely. He appreciated the efforts and contributions of Quantity Surveyors in optimizing public and private investments. He took the opportunity to congratulate and handover the certificate to PAQS-Iwata Foundation Essay Competition Winner Mr. Kasun Gunasekara, a young Graduate Member of the Institute.

The Keynote Speaker Mr. Thilan Wijesinghe a renowned financier, entrepreneur and former Chairman of Board of Investments, observed that Sri Lankan Quantity Surveying practice is currently in a Commodity Trap and highlighted the need to escape from it. After reviewing different definitions of Quantity Surveying, he opined that most did not help much in this endeavour. Consequently, he redefined Quantity Surveying as the business of adding value to an investment decision on construction which will help to address the critical question in handling construction cost.

Photo Credit - Kasun GunasekeraMr. Wijesinghe requested Quantity Surveyors to ask themselves “what business are we in?” He highlighted the importance of creating public awareness on value additions made by each Quantity Surveyor through all possible ways and suggested that social media would be the most effective.

Panellists of the Annual Forum’s panel discussion included the Keynote Speaker Mr. Thilan Wijesinghe, senior Quantity Surveyor and founder member and former President of IQSSL Ch. QS. Mr. H.D Chandrasena, Project Director/ Team Leader of Western Region Megapolis Planning Project, Mr. Lakshman Jayasekera and Chairman and Managing Director of Tudawe Brothers (Pvt) Ltd,Eng. Rohan Tudawe. Ch. QS. Mr. Lalith Ratnayake was the panel moderator.

Photo Credit - Kasun GunasekeraThe panel noted the time inefficiencies of procurement processes and agreed on its impact on investments. Mr. Jayasekara stated that high land costs affect decisions of foreign investors and recommended zero cost lands for investments. Mr. Wijesinghe said that free trade agreements can be used for the development of profession if carefully implemented. He questioned whether what is impotant is to protect inefficiencies or develop overall efficiencies by being exposed to wider competition.

Ch. QS. Mr. Chandrasena highlighted the impact of accuracy of documents on cost certainty both at tendering and completion of a project. Eng. Rohan Thudawe noted that cost associates with non-payment and borrowings, and said that prices are quoted high due to such risks.

From the audience, Chairman of Construction Industry Development Authority Mr. C. H. De Thisera appreciatively noted the key points discussed at the panel discussion for further action.

Ch. QS. Dr. Chandana Jayalath emphasised on loss caused to the nation by not getting the services of qualified Quantity Surveyors at various state institutes, which again relates to Mr. Wijesinghe’s question of “what business are we in?”

Archt. Prof. Lalith de Silva questioned about the environmental effects of oncoming developments. Elaborating on the issue, Mr. Jayasekera said that the plan is to focus more on environmentally friendly developments than just erecting mega buildings.

Repertoire of the Annual Forum, Ch. QS. Mr. Suranga Jayasena concluded with a summary of the event stating that it provided valuable insight in to issues surrounding Quantity Surveyors for them to plan and shape their future.

Photographs by Kasun Gunasekera