Region round-up

Asia-Pacific

Asia Pacific• Leonard Gardner and Sheryl Hunter
have been named young chartered accountant of the year and
accounting technician of the year, respectively. They were
presented with their awards at a New Zealand Institute of
Chartered Accountants
’ dinner in Auckland. Gardner is a
director of Foster Construction Group. He won his award after
showing exceptional entrepreneurial characteristics in accountancy
and business. He also devotes a lot of his spare time to charity
work. Hunter won her award after helping research and development
company Rentokil Initial become more customer-focused.

• The National Institute of Accountants
has released a paper analysing how business accounting principles
can be used to account for Australia’s water resources. It was put
together with the help of experts from the University of Melbourne.
Water resources have become an issue in Australia, as many parts
are experiencing drought conditions.

• The Auditing and
Assurance Standards Board of Australia
has released three
guidance statements: GS 003, GS 004 and GS 005. The statements deal
with financial services licensees, general insurers and those using
the work of actuaries.

• A KPMG
Australia
study of sustainability reporting practices in
Australia has found that major public and private entities
increased the incidence and quality of their sustainability
reporting during 2006 – a trend that is expected to continue. KPMG
said improved reporting is being driven by a range of forces,
including the greater focus of analysts and institutional investors
on long-term performance, the increasing financial materiality of
greenhouse gas emissions and a global movement towards more overt
corporate responsibility and associated competitive
positioning.

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By GlobalData

• Thirteen members of the
New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants
were made fellows at the institute’s AGM last month. The new
fellows are Frank Claridge, Craig Fisher, David Morrow, Andrew
Thompson, Stephen Tubbs, Brian Martin, Joanne Scott, Peter Byers,
Bill Thomson, Howard Davey, Paul Hickson, Rex McKinnon and Terry
McLaughlin. The fellowships were handed out to people who had made
an outstanding contribution to the accountancy profession.

• Deloitte
Australia
is merging with data analytics firm Analytic
Insight. The company’s team of eight senior analytic consultants in
Sydney and Melbourne will join Deloitte’s existing national
practice of 70. Deloitte’s chief executive, Giam Swiegers, said:
“This merger increases Deloitte’s capacities to assist
organisations navigate data identification and acquisition, through
to implementation of operational and market-facing solutions.”

• KPMG China
has opened an office in Shenyang – its 11th office location in
China. The Shenyang office will be the firm’s third in northern
China as it has existing offices in Beijing and Qingdao. KPMG China
and Hong Kong chairman John Harrison said: “We will endeavour to
contribute to the growth of Shenyang, which is blessed with natural
resources, such as oil, iron, coal and natural gas. It is also a
major transportation hub in north-east China, with a well-connected
air, rail and road transportation network.” The new office will
commence operations with about 50 professionals.

Africa, Middle East, South Africa

Africa, Middle East, South East Asia• The
International Network of Asian Businesses (INAB)
has formed a strategic alliance with the Grant Thornton
UK
South Asia Group. Rupal Patel, director of INAB, said
that one of the reasons for the alliance was that Grant Thornton
understood the subtleties of doing business in the South Asia
region. The alliance will help Grant Thornton strengthen its ties
with Asian businesses working in the UK and vice
versa
.

• MSI Legal and
Accounting Network Worldwide
(MSI) has appointed
Bangalore-based accounting firm Balakrishna & Co as a member.
An MSI spokesman said the network sees this as an important
appointment because of Bangalore’s growing importance as an IT hub.
The city is also experiencing strong growth in many sectors
including aviation and real estate. Balakrishna & Co is MSI’s
tenth Indian member. The three partner firm was set up in 1988 and
specialises in core audit, tax and accounting services.

• The Institute of
Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh
celebrated
its 30th anniversary recently. The celebrations were attended by
Feroz Ahmed from the Bangladesh Ministry of Commerce. A historic
mural was unveiled, a new class room was opened and the institute
launched a new website as part of the event.

• Problems still exist with
public expenditure in South Africa despite the introduction of the
Municipal Finance Management Act and Public Finance Management Act,
according to Ernst & Young South Africa
(E&Y). The Big Four firm said the laws were being undermined by
corruption and financial mismanagement, and this had serious
consequences for service delivery. The problems included
unauthorised employee expenditure, unfair tender issues and
unauthorised debt. George Higgins, the manager of professional
practice group/public sector at E&Y, said the only solution to
the problem is transparency.

• The Indian Supreme Court has
determined Accounting Standard (AS) 22 Accounting for Taxes on
Income, issued by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of
India
(ICAI), is within the power of the provisions of
India’s Companies Act of 1956 and valid. When the ICAI issued AS 22
in 2001, it was challenged by a number of companies on the ground
that it overrode provisions in the Companies Act. The Calcutta High
Court ruled in favour of the standard earlier this year, but the
decision was appealed by several companies.

• Paying tax in the Maldives
requires the least amount of preparation of any country, according
to a report from Pricewaterhouse-Coopers. The
remainder of the top ten was made up of Singapore, Hong Kong,
United Arab Emirates, Oman, Ireland, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, New
Zealand and Kiribati. The ten economies where it was most
time-consuming were Panama, Jamaica, Mauritania, Bolivia, the
Gambia, Venezuela, the Central African Republic, the Republic of
Congo, Ukraine and Belarus. The report found that globally, on
average, a company spends almost two months a year complying with
tax regulations – 15 days for corporate income taxes.

Europe

Europe• The
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and
Wales
has launched a new special interest group to support
non-executive directors. The group will help non-executive
directors develop their financial expertise to constructively
challenge management decisions, ensuring they become an effective
part of an organisation’s corporate governance.

• Tax reform is moving forward
in Russia, according to an Ernst & Young
survey of taxation issues. The study interviewed 58 local and
international companies operating in Russia. It revealed that there
is disappointment with tax administration and many respondents are
concerned about the authorities’ interpretation and inconsistent
application of tax laws. About 84 percent of respondents said they
had tax disputes with the authorities. Eighty-nine percent of
companies won dispute cases that were contested in Russian
courts.

• The Institute of
Chartered Accountants of Scotland
has issued updated
guidance for audit committees assessing their company’s external
auditor. The guidance, entitled ‘Appraising Your Auditors’, is
designed to help answer questions about the audit process,
including when companies should put their audit out to tender and
what the tell-tale signs are of senior management getting too close
to the external auditor.

• Two professional services
firms have warned that the incidence of personal insolvency is set
to escalate in the next 12 months. PKF UK has
blamed interest rate rises, growing consumer debt and tightening
lending practices as the major reasons for the spike, while
KPMG has added rising council tax and other
household bills into the mix. Insolvency Service UK shows that
111,359 people either went into bankruptcy or entered into an
individual voluntary arrangement in the 12 months ended 30
September 2007, which is an increase of 13 percent over the
previous 12 months.

• Syscap has
been accredited member product and services partner by the
Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and
Wales
(ICAEW). The IT finance provider will work with
ICAEW members to ensure they can take full advantage of its
specialist advice and tailored finance solutions for a wide range
of business-related finance requirements.

• The UK Accounting
Standards Board
(ASB) is asking for comments on its
response to the International Accounting Standards
Board
’s (IASB) proposed amendments to IFRS. The IASB plans
to amend IFRS as part of its first annual improvements project. The
ASB believes the global standard setter should highlight whether
amendments will have a material effect and has questioned whether
issues that do not achieve unanimous agreement should be part of
the improvements. The ASB said the amendment to IAS 39 Definition
of a Derivative should be withdrawn.

• The UK Auditing
Practices Board
has published a consultation draft of a
revision of Practice Note 19(I), which deals with the audit of
banks in the Republic of Ireland. The revision is planned for a
number of reasons: to reflect the replacement of national
Statements of Auditing Standards with International Standards on
Auditing, and to keep up with more general changes in legislation
and regulation.

North America/Latin America

Americas• Canada’s Auditing and Assurance Standards
Board
plans to develop a new Canadian Auditing Standard in
line with the revised International Standard on Auditing 620 Work
of an Auditor’s Expert. As a result of this project, the
requirements and guidance in Section 5049, Use of Specialists in
Assurance Engagements, will be replaced.

• Tom Hohman has announced he
is to leave his post as chief financial officer of the
Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)
to become the chief financial officer of a private company. Hohman
joined the US watchdog in July 2003 and is the watchdog’s first CFO
and a founding officer. PCAOB chairman Mark Olson described Hohman
as “integral in developing a PCAOB infrastructure, helping the
organisation put in place sound financial systems and internal
controls”.

• The Accounting
Standards Board of Canada
(AcSB) will hold a series of
round-table discussions on progress towards the adoption of IFRS by
publicly accountable enterprises. AcSB plans to confirm by the end
of March the mandatory adoption of IFRS by Canadian publicly
accountable enterprises for fiscal years beginning on or after 1
January 2011.

• The Canadian
Institute of Chartered Accountants
has released a draft
version of a simplified accounting framework aimed at owner-managed
businesses. It was created due to concerns that the current
framework is more suited to public companies and large private
businesses. There are 1.7 million owner-managed businesses in
Canada that employ 32 percent of the Canadian workforce.

• The Center for Audit
Quality
(CAQ) said it believes US domestic registrants
should be given the option to file financial statements using IFRS
as part of an overall plan to transition all US domestic
registrants to IFRS. The CAQ said the US Securities and Exchange
Commission should develop a comprehensive plan, with appropriate
timetables and a specific date for the move.

• The US Public
Company Accounting Oversight Board
has announced new
appointments and reappointments to its Standing Advisory Group for
2008. The board received 90 nominations and renominations for the
positions. Eleven new appointees and nine reappointments were made.
They include Randy Fletchall, who is the newly elected chairman of
the board of directors of the American Institute of Certified
Public Accountants.

• Institute of
Management Accountants
(IMA) president and chief executive
Paul Sharman has supported the rationalisation and convergence of
IFRS and US GAAP. However, Sharman said the IMA’s support is on the
condition that convergence improves the quality of financial
disclosures and enables businesses to focus on creating and growing
shareholder wealth. He added: “IMA especially applauds any efforts
that will result in convergence of standards being more scalable,
effective and efficient for small- and medium-sized
entities.”