Dear Members, this is the first address that I am writing for the New Year. I hope that you all had a well-deserved break that allowed you like me some more time with the family who we love so much.
Last year may already sound like a long way away however it was only last November that the Institute held its biennial conference with the theme, ‘Defining New Frontiers – Translating vision into value‘. The conference was a successful one and elicited a strong participation from Members. It was with great interest that I watched all the local and foreign speakers discuss matters that are intimately connected to us. Changes driven by the EU had an impact not only on the country but also on our profession and the business community that we serve.
The more recent of the European legislative initiatives affecting both the accountant in employment and the accountant in public practice and referred to in our conference included the initiatives relating to audit and accounting, changes in tax (direct and indirect), public sector accounting, the proposed family business act and developments in the prevention of money laundering regulations. I always saw a very animated debate about how these initiatives are affecting our profession, how we respond to them and how we develop our competencies and capabilities to turn these initiatives into opportunities.
We are now analysing the feedback received from participants at the conference. There seems to be a preference of our Members for a one day conference with more emphasis on key note speakers. This feedback will be taken on board when planning next conferences. I would like to take this opportunity however to comment on an observation I made during the conference. Roughly half of our member base is women however female attendees at the conference amounted to only 12%. I would appreciate feedback from our female members as to why this is the case and what in their view may be done to elicit better female attendance at and participation in our conference.
I was also very happy to participate in the lighter, non-core, sessions that in my view are also important. Particularly the teambuilding session was fun. I am sure that all those present had a lot of fun joining in the melee and banging away on those makeshift bongos! Obviously the pleasure of meeting our Members was unsurpassed and I think that the conference was a fantastic opportunity to catch up with our peers.
I would like to thank our secretariat who worked very hard to organise the conference in every minute detail. I would also like to thank all the moderators, speakers and panel members, some of whom travelled over long distances to be with us.
The contents and the effects that proposed legal bill published in 2012 will have on our profession was one of the items that was mentioned at the conference. I am aware that some Members are concerned about the contents and the effects that this Bill will have on their profession. Our profession has come a long way over these past 30 years and made very relevant contributions to the local economic development of our country. We will oppose any measures the consequence of which could be to turn back the clock and relegate us into some second division profession.
We have always maintained that we support initiatives that help to better regulate a profession and that enhance the public interest. We are not against the regulation of the legal profession, we do however have serious have reservations about certain clauses that are included in the Bill. The Institute is currently involved in making representations to Government And other regulatory bodies to safeguard the long-term stability of the accounting profession, the public interest and the markets and communities that it serves.
I am sure you’ll agree with me that a profession devoid of sound ethical principles is doomed to fail. The Institute has been working relentlessly on revising Directive 2, Code of Ethics for Warrant Holders, to incorporate the revised IESBA Code that clarifies the requirements for all professional accountants and significantly strengthens the independence requirements of all auditors. This process started in 2010 and was concluded in May 2012 when the MIA Council and the Accountancy Board approved the revisions to the Code of Ethics for Warrant Holders made by the MIA Ethics Committee chaired by Mr Mario Galea.
Unfortunately due to a legislative backlog at Cabinet level, the amended Code was never presented to the Cabinet of Ministers before the March 2013 elections. Very little progress has been registered since then.
The unnecessary delay in issuing the revised code is denying the profession and the public the undoubtedly considerable benefit of updated high-quality ethical standards. These standards have already been adopted on an International level and are therefore essential to support our International financial services sector. The MIA intends to publish its revised Code of Ethics that is modelled on the Board’s Code in February of this year, hoping that the Board will publish its Code without further delays.
Another front that is keeping MIA staff and Council Members quite busy is the transposition of the Accounting Directive that needs to be complete by July of this year.
In view of the wide ranging effects of the Accounting Directive, besides representatives of the accountancy profession, it was considered that active participation during the transposition process by representatives of a wide range of stakeholders from the private and the public sectors was imperative. The WG was constituted under the auspices of the Accountancy Board and includes representatives of the Accountancy Board, Malta Institute of Accountants, Malta Bankers Association, National Statistics Authority, Malta Financial Services Authority, University of Malta, the Ministry for Finance, the Ministry for Economy and the Commissioner of Revenue. The group has been meeting regularly over the past year and has successfully concluded its discussions and adopted a common position on the Member State Options that are available to Malta.
A related change to local financial reporting practice will involve the General Accounting Principles for Smaller Entities or as it is widely known, GAPSE. The local financial reporting framework needs to be brought in line with the new Directive and MIA Council has just tasked an ad-hoc working group with revising the principles.
As usual I would like to close off by sharing with you my thoughts on a very interesting book I read recently called ‘Even silence has an end’ by Ingrid Betancourt. She was a political candidate who was kidnapped in Columbia by FARC and held captive for 7 years. As you can imagine she went through a massive ordeal. Interesting to note however is that amongst other things this experience made this former political person realise that real lasting change does not come from political initiatives or politicians but from ourselves. If we want to change our lives for the better we have to start by changing ourselves and stop blaming others when we don t succeed. Food for thought indeed.