Accountants still unhappy with review group's plans


The Institute of Chartered Accountants in Ireland (ICAI) has called for the immediate appointment of an interim Oversight Board to supervise the profession. But it objects to the oversight board having any role in "operational issues" within the accountancy bodies.

In a considered response to the recommendations on the Review Group on Auditing the ICAI said it supports the main policy recommendations. But it adds that it has concerns about the overall cost and competitive implications of introducing some of the recommendations.

It warned that an oversight board which was involved in "operational issues" would not be consistent with a supervisory function and "could totally undermine the ability of the accountancy bodies to effectively regulate members".

Calling for "detailed and extensive consultation" with all interested parties before final decisions were made, the ICAI president, Mr David Simpson, stressed the importance of ensuring a balance between the implementation of new rules and maintaining Ireland's position as a small extremely open economy. The Review Group, appointed by the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Ms Harney, following concerns about the self-regulation of the profession and a recommendation in the DIRT Inquiry Report that a formal review be conducted, reported in July.

Among its 80 recommendations was that a new statutory "oversight" board with wide ranging supervisory powers should be set up to oversee the profession.

While the Review Group saw the oversight board as being able to oversee and initiate disciplinary hearings and impose fines, the ICAI argued that the board role should be monitoring and protecting the quality of the audit.

It expressed "particular concern" that this board should not get involved in "operational issues" such as the regulation and discipline of accountants.

"Many of these recommendations reflect proposals made in the ICAI's submission to the Review Group and, if implemented in a sensible and practical way, will serve to enhance public confidence in auditing and maintain Ireland's position as a good place in which to do business," said Mr Simpson.