Saturday, September 13, 2008

Committee welcomes proposed amendment to accountants Act

Committee welcomes proposed amendment to accountants Act
By Mwala Kalaluka
Saturday September 13, 2008 [04:01]

PUBLIC Accounts Committee (PAC) acting chairperson Emmanuel Hachipuka has said the proposed amendment to the accountants Act will assist in reducing indiscipline among accountants in the public service. And finance minister Ng'andu Magande said the proposed amendments to the accountants Act will help bring sanity in the accounting profession because it will be harmonised with other relevant Acts.

Contributing to the debate on the accountants Bill number 13 of 2008 before it passed second reading in the House on Thursday, Hachipuka commended the Ministry of Finance and National Planning for seeking to review the legal provisions in the accounting profession.

"This House will agree that there have been numerous developments in Zambia and world over which affect the accounting profession," Hachipuka said. "Therefore, the accounting profession has to be responsive to these changes."

Hachipuka, who urged the House to support the progressive legal amendment, called on the government to ensure that once the bill is enacted, it should not continue for another 20 years without amendment in view of the ever-changing landscape of the accounting profession.

He said when the bill comes into force, accountants would be regulated from two angles, that is from their employer and the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA).
"It will be important if ZICA should be taking interest in the reports of the Auditor General and check the performance of accountants in the public sector," he said.

Hachipuka also said the issue of qualifications in the profession would be addressed because the major excuse that most controlling officers cite for the many financial irregularities in their ministries was the lack of qualified accounting personnel.
He noted that the inclusion of a provision to protect whistle-blowers in the new amendments to the accountants Act would have a positive effect on the fight against corruption.

"My appeal is for this regulation to be finalised without further delay," said Hachipuka.
And Magande said the Bill seeks to set high standards in the accounting profession and that these would be maintained for the good of public interest.

He said the current accounting legal framework was inadequate to effectively regulate the profession and to help in the upholding of good corporate conduct and ethics.

"There is lack of a harmonised set of laws regulating the accounting profession," Magande said. "The Accountants Bill therefore requires that all qualified accountants be regulated by ZICA, including foreigners engaged to work in Zambia."

Magande said the proposals also seek to harmonise the accountants Act to other pertinent Acts such as the money laundering Act.

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