The parliament, on Wednesday, approved the Maldives Chartered Accountants Bill, which mandates the formation of the 'Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Maldives' (ICAM).
Lobbied on behalf of the government by parliamentary representative for Gaafu Alif Atoll's Dhaandhoo constituency MP Yauqoob Abdulla in December 2019, the bill was approved with 67 out of 69 lawmakers voting in favour.
ICAM will formulate standards for auditing and accounting in the private sector, regulate and monitor the work of private sector accountants and auditors, set valuation guidelines and provide accounting related assistance to the public sector as well as technical services such as certification, education and training.
According to the Auditor General's Office, the demand for the services of chartered accountants in Maldives had surged rapidly in response to sudden changes in economic activity, resulting in businesses hiring foreign workers. Despite a greater number of Maldivians possessing qualifications in the field, the Audit Office noted that the majority of chartered accountants currently working in Maldives are still foreign nationals.
Speaking to The Edition, Auditor General Hassan Ziyath stated "We would like to extend opportunities for Maldivians", highlighting ICAM's role in increasing local participation within the workforce.
In order to support the professional development of locals in the field, ICAM will conduct training programmes, establish a code of ethics and accredit accountancy qualifications offered by colleges or universities to improve graduates' job prospects.
In terms of economic impact, ICAM is expected to attract greater investment by increasing the reliability of financial reporting, thereby improving business confidence.
After the bill is ratified and published on the national gazette, a transitional council consisting of the Auditor General and eight members will be appointed to develop bylaws and standard operating procedures over four years. A key aim for the transitional period is seeking formal recognition from the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)
Following the transition period, the institute will be headed by an elected nine-member council consisting of a president, vice president and four members from ICAM, as well as the Auditor General, Commissioner General of Taxation and State Financial Controller.
Auditor General Ziyath expressed gratitude towards the cooperation extended by the parliament's Public Accounts Committee, with regard to drafting efforts for the Maldives Chartered Accountants Bill which commenced in 2015 and was finalised in 2019.
The AG Office has long worked to establish an independent legal body such as ICAM to regulate auditing and accounting in Maldives.
Till date, the accounting profession was regulated under the mandate of the Auditor General's Office, including the issuance of audit licenses since 2014.
In February 2017, the Office established the Institute of Audit and Assurance (IAA) which conducts CPD events and training programmes for accountants and auditors. Additionally, the biggest internal event in the accounting profession, the Maldives Accountants Forum, has been annually organized by the Auditor General's Office since 2017.