Review of Accountants Act by ACRA

26 July 2011

Mrs Josephine Teo, Minister of State for Finance and Transport who spoke at ACRA’s sixth Public Accountants Conference (PAC) indicated that ACRA will embark on a two-part review of the Accountants Act.

A targeted consultation approach will be taken for the first part of the review. ACRA has already reached out to key stakeholders, such as public accountancy firms, and there will also be focus group discussions to hear views from interested parties. A separate consultation paper for Part 2 will be released at a later date, followed by a public consultation exercise.

From the first part of the review conducted, key recommendations are:

1. Firm review framework for accounting entities that audit or review public interest entities

ACRA has proposed a firm review framework for accounting entities that audit or review public interest entities (“PIEs”) such as listed  companies, financial institutions and charities. As the financial reports of such PIEs could have a significant public impact, it is proposed that auditors of PIEs should demonstrate certain important qualities such as compliance with the Singapore Standard on Quality Controls 1 (SSQC1). ACRA will assess auditors based on the required standard before they are approved as eligible auditors for PIEs. The choice of auditors will however continue to be a commercial decision.

2. Special Investigation regime

ACRA has proposed to introduce a special investigation process to improve its ability to deal with cases of potential non-compliance with audit requirements that are of public interest. For example, this can be where investors’ interests are adversely affected as a result of a listed company not complying with audit requirements for its financial statements. A special investigation regime will grant ACRA specific powers to investigate and respond in an appropriate manner to such cases.

Singapore’s vision is to transform itself into a leading global accountancy hub for the Asia Pacific region by 2020. To meet the challenges ahead, a Pro-Tem Singapore Accountancy Council (“Pro-Tem SAC”) has been formed to drive initiatives to deepen the pool of accounting professionals and strengthen Singapore’s position as a leading centre for high value-adding professional accountancy services.

Source: Ministry of Finance