Confusion reigns over plans to grant degree awarding status to a new Sri Lankan accounting body amidst allegations that the committee of this proposed body consists mostly non-accounting individuals.
A private members bill has been presented to Parliament recently seeking the incorporation of the proposed Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPA) which ‘aspires to prescribe standards of education, training and experience in accountancy and to hold examinations and other tests and to award certificates, diplomas and degrees’. But some accountants say that this new accounting body is unrecognized by all other accounting bodies including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL), which was incorporated by an Act of parliament in 1959 and is today one of the foremost professional bodies in the country with a membership of 4200.
The other accounting bodies have raised concerns and made representations to the authorities, according to some senior members of the accounting profession. “They are concerned over the objectives of this controversial body which appears to be created by a group of individuals who are not even connected to the accounting field and are not accountants by profession,” an accountant told the Business Times.
He said that with the bill still to be discussed in Parliament, many parties together with recognised accounting bodies are highly agitated and are making representations to some parliamentarians. This bill was referred to the Ministry of Finance as well as Ministry of Trade and Commerce and is now with a parliamentary committee, which is studying it together with opposing comments, according to informed sources.
“According to reliable information received, only one member in this proposed institute’s committee is an accountant by profession. They question as to how an accounting body without professionally qualified accountants can award degrees,” the accountant noted. He went on to say that like any other profession, the accounting profession is regulated with the fundamental objective of having uniformity and competency. He added that the highest standards of professional integrity can be achieved only through a professional body that has a proven track record of following high standards within a well regulated institutional framework.
“To achieve this standard, the selection, training, enrolment and supervision of the profession are required. All national accounting bodies are generally affiliated to the International Federation of Accountants to ensure compliance with international standards both in auditing and accounting. It is in this context that the accounting profession, their obligations and challenges must be viewed,” he added.
Many accountants say that it is imperative that every effort is taken to safeguard the primary institutes in the country which commands wide respect both locally and internationally.
“It is uncertain on what basis such an institute is considered to be a degree awarding institute especially as it does not enjoy any local or global recognition,” another accountant pointed out, adding that this move can affect the entire education system in the country. “When unrecognized bodies are given degree awarding status, it will also put thousands of unsuspecting students’ future in jeopardy,” he noted.
Furthermore, it is reliably learnt that even senior officials from the Ministry of Higher Education are in the dark over this development as they haven’t been informed nor have they approved this institute to be a degree awarding educational institute.