As companies and financial institutions strive to be more transparent, sometimes they actually obscure the truth behind all analysis and projections, so said Public Utilities Minister Robert Le Hunte yesterday.
“The pressure to have more exhaustive financial statements is a direct result of some of the scandals witnessed over the years, where companies that received a clean bill of health with regards to their finances went belly-up in a short space of time,” Le Hunte noted.
He was speaking at the launch of the 50th anniversary celebrations and 2019 annual international finance and accounting conference of the Institute of Chartered Accounting Conference (ICATT) held at the Hilton Hotel yesterday.
The minister said it was no secret that this country is plagued by a high incidence of white collar crime and corruption.
“Most often, these situations unfold between two parties with a facilitator. And so I ask you, to what extent do you facilitate white collar crime and corruption?
“Certain activities may not even be criminal in nature. Take tax avoidance, for example, versus tax-evasion. But at the end of the day, these activities are still unethical and not in the best interest of the country and its people,” Le Hunte added.
The minister said it is important to develop “true professionals” which he described as the real “crux of the matter.”
“Society places a lot of trust in that term of being a professional. We place our trust and sometimes our lives in their trust. A true professional must uphold the standards of its field,” Le Hunte added.
In questioning how institutions, people and economies can be protected from unscrupulous activities Le Hunte said the answer lies in developing true professionals.
“Besides being technically proficient, a true professional must uphold the standards and ethics of their particular field,” Le Hunte added.
ICATT’s president Stacy-Ann Golding who also spoke said as an institution it was forging ahead to establish a quality framework including audit monitoring and relationships with its external stakeholders.
“We intend to update ICATT’s legislation, develop our technical and compliance services to members and ensure members fully harness the benefits of being partners,” she explained.
Golding said at the macro level, the institute looks to support public sector initiatives to adopt International Public Sector Accounting Standards(IPSAS) and strengthen internal and external audit capability.
“In the years ahead, staying abreast of compliance changes, the impact on technology on the execution of traditional accountancy tasks, automation and the changing expectations of accountants in the workplace are matters that will occupy the profession,” Golding added.