Calls for auditing profession to transform

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Deputy Auditor-General Terence Nombembe says there is still much to be done to transform the auditing profession in this country.

Mr Nombembe was speaking during a function for stakeholders, held for the latter to interact and share challenges facing the profession.

He said for the profession to transform there was a need to attract more people who were representative of the country's population.

According to him, there were more than 20 000 qualified chartered accountants in the country.

"If we look at the target group overall excluding white females, there is just over a 1000 chartered accountants [and] if you look at blacks in particular there is hardly 400," he said.

Mr Nombembe pointed out that the stakeholders had a key responsibility to transform the profession to be a channel through which people qualified as chartered accountants.

"And if we as firms [auditors] do not take this thing with a radical approach as in a positive sense this profession is never going to change," he added.

He said there were various interventions that could be undertaken such as opening training opportunities and bursaries, citing the relationship the Office of the Auditor-General had with some institutions to attract students.

"For the profession to transform we are going to have more people coming to do articles or training that is more representative of the population," he explained.

He added that there was a need to also encourage a sizeable number of people to remain in the profession, saying it had a pivotal role to play in terms of protecting and reinforcing the country's democracy.

"We need to train and develop the right amount of a calibre of candidates... we need to move from scrambling from the chosen few," he said, adding that it was something needed to be worked on gradually.

On the relationship the AG had with the stakeholders, he said more attention had to be paid to make the accountability process as enjoyable as possible without compromising responsibilities.

This he explained as the provision of credible information, by both auditing firms and government departments as partners that had a like mind to represent the AG professionally.

On the private sector particularly, he said it would not do South Africa any good to think the sector was better than government.

"The important thing is not to be arrogant about the way we do our job. The important thing is that when we pick up differences of opinion, interpreting things differently ... we actually need to be clear about what drives those differences."

He explained that perceptions were that the AG was all about "driving the agenda of punishment", but he said it was all about how the work was being done, reporting independently to Parliament.

This to ensure that what was being reported to Parliament was credible.

"Therefore, if people have that attitude towards us, it is important for us not to react to that in a negative way, but actually to explain what our role and their [auditing firms] role is.

"We cannot compromise our independence, our objectivity and our roles as part of the chain of accountability."

Source: BuaNews

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