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SAICA vs SAIBA: Perspectives on the Draft Transformation Charter for Accountants

The revised chartered accountancy profession sector code for transformation was recently gazetted for public comment by the Department of Trade and Industry, to boost transformation in the profession to reflect the demographics in South Africa.

In response, the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) issued a formal statement on the charter’s aim to grow the number of black South African chartered accountants, describing the CA Charter as being more than a “mere tick-box exercise”. The charter expands upon the standard allocation of points under the existing Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBB-EE) legislation by placing significant emphasis on skills development, SAICA explained.

In particular, the skills development score has been upgraded to 30 points, from the conventional 20 points. It is intended that the profession thus can place greater emphasis on training, learnerships and bursary fund investments.

The chair of the CA Charter Council and executive chairperson of African Women Chartered Accountants, Sindi Mabaso-Koyana, also welcomed the revised code following years of many challenges within the profession.  “Not only can the profession ramp up the transformation efforts…but it can elevate these plans to restore the nobility of the profession while executing tangible results,” she said.

Furthermore, the supplier development contributions have been reduced from 10 points to 5 points.  SAICA noted that “it is impossible to grow the number of Black CAs (SA) without funding”. The remaining five points have been allocated to the capacity building of SA’s historically disadvantaged tertiary institutions (HDIs). The aim is to improve the level of education available at these institutions, to increase the capacity of the country, in growing the number of black students who can graduate and address the many challenges relative to inequality that they face.

Chantyl Mulder, SAICA’s executive director of nation-building, also commented on the need to develop black chartered accountants. “South Africa still has a large shortage of CAs (SA) – especially African and Coloured CAs(SA). But thanks to the CA Charter, the profession now has a very real opportunity to empower South African citizens by meaningfully expanding the economic activity of the country through the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods,” she said.

Conversely, comment from Nicolaas van Wyk, CEO of SA Institute of Business Accountants (SAIBA) reveals a different perspective on the revised charter: “We (SAIBA) oppose this charter as it benefits the monopoly player in the sector (SAICA). There is no other sector that has a charter that benefits a privately controlled entity.” He goes on to say: “we will be objecting to this “charter” on the basis of anti-competitiveness and the fact that it is not in line with the BBB-EE principles of broad empowerment. We will ask that that it be replaced with an Accountancy Profession Charter.”

The CEO of SAIBA goes on to say that if it’s [the revised charter] is allowed to continue in its current form then it will force universities and employers to fund the development of a privately controlled entity to the detriment of the accounting community as a whole.  He says: “SAICA enjoys special privileges that as a result of legislation like this dominates the sector. Their actions are not in the public interest and given the recent involvement of CAs in corporate scandals, this leaves a very bad taste in the mouth.