I would like to take this opportunity to share with you some updates on the recent developments of the Institute of Solomon Islands Accountants (ISIA). This report will cover updates from the month of April to July 2020.
State of Emergency – COVID-19
As you are all aware, we all have been impacted by the global pandemic – COVID 19 since late March this year (2020). This is an unprecedented global event which has significantly impacted on organisations’ abilities to be operating sustainably, or even to remain in business.
ISIA, as a Professional Accounting Organisation (PAO) is no different to all other organisations. PAOs around the world have been significantly impacted by the COVID 19 - which requires PAOs to critically change their business operations and strategize around how to remain relevant to members and be effective in delivering on their mandates.
Since late March 2020, ISIA has been operating in a very challenging time as a result of the effects of the COVID 19 and the Government’s subsequent declaration of the State of Emergency (SOE) which is about to end pending any government decision to extend the SOE further.
Impact on your Institute’s activities
Postponement of 2020 AGM
The first impact on ISIA was to postpone the planned AGM from 31st of March 2020 until further notice. The governing body of the Institute, the Council, felt that it was necessary under the circumstances to comply with social distancing requirements.
Freezing of work program
The Council called a special meeting on the 21st of April 2020 to discuss the impact of the pandemic crisis on ISIA’s day to day operations, and to make decisions on the way forward for ISIA on the short term.
As a result of this meeting, the following decisions were reached:
o Halt all ISIA planned activities as per the ISIA Short & Medium-Term Plan except for normal operational and administrative activities necessary to keep the Secretariat office running up to 30th June 2020;
o The CEO workplan will have to be revised accordingly to take into account the impact of the global pandemic on ISIA’s operations;
o The Secretariat to allow a grace period up to 30th of June 2020 to allow additional time for members with outstanding fees pay up their subscriptions to avoid de-registration;
Revision of strategic work plans
ISIA’s strategic plan and medium-term plan aims to enable ISIA to become a full member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), and to develop appropriate competencies as a PAO to better serve the interest of its members and stakeholders. These plans remain paramount to both the Council and the Secretariat.
However, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, ISIA will have to reconsider its approach and plans on how to achieve its ultimate objectives (mentioned above). This means that there will be delays in several planned activities which the Institute currently has in the pipeline.
The main activities affected by this revision are:
Cancellation of all CPA workshops
Due to cancellation of international travel, all CPA workshops planned for the year have had to be cancelled until further advise by the Council. This will have an impact on ISIA’s ability to provide CPD trainings to its members and other stakeholders.
The CEO is currently liaising with Council to work out alternative ways in which ISIA can still be able to provide future CPD trainings in light of the current situation. These could include the use of digital sessions arranged with the help of participating organisations and business houses with access to internet services for instance.
Postponement of Annual Congress
The proposed annual congress which was originally planned to be hosted alongside the AGM has been postponed for 2021. However, this remains very much dependent on the uplifting of travel bans that has been put in place by many countries globally;
Postponement of recruitment of AVI and training officer
The recruitment process for an AVI was already underway in late 2019. This however has been halted due to the banning of international travel.
The recruitment of the training officer is very much dependent on the successful recruitment of the AVI and so this too has been halted as a result of the above.
Postponement of expansion of ISIA training program
The delay in the appointment of the AVI and training officer has had a very significant impact on ISIA plans on developing and implementing a holistic training program targeting three levels of its membership – that is:
· basic accounting skills for our membership at entry level
· technician accounting stream which will be introduced and aimed at our membership who are working for employers and want to attain international recognition at certificate and diploma level; as well as be eligible for registration as practicing technician accountants [currently designated as bookkeepers]; and
· CPA professional members who will be required under new arrangements to undertake a mandatory minimum number of training hours each year to retain their registration.
Delay in setting up an online examination centre
The Secretariat had already initiated the process of setting up the proposed online examination facility early in 2020 but has been held up waiting for technical support for tendering out the IT equipment In the meantime the Secretariat has been establishing suitable technical standards with potential international training partners for the technical accounting stream; and CPA Australia for the professional stream.
Progress on our next steps forward
Despite the setbacks that has negatively impacted the progress of ISIA’s plans, both the Council and the Secretariat remain committed to ensure that ISIA navigates its way successfully through these very challenging and unprecedented circumstances brought about by the global pandemic.
It is not an easy task to be steering an organisation that is still at the early stages of proper establishment, and with very limited resources. However, the ISIA Council and Secretariat strives to bring out the best of the situation and progress through with its plans in these challenging times.
On this note, it is also important to make mention of some positive developments which ISIA has been making during this four-month period while it is working on making the necessary adjustments required to ensure that it progresses its plans and remain relevant to its members and other stakeholders. Below are some highlights that are worth mentioning during April to July 2020.
DFAT Grant Agreement 2020-2021
ISIA and DFAT finally managed to sign the Grant Agreement on the 29th of April 2020. The Vice President signed on behalf of ISIA, witnessed by the Deputy High Commissioner, Sally-Ann Vincent. The funds ($1,605,000) were received in the ISIA BSP bank account subsequent to the signing on 5th of May 2020.
The new grant is targeted towards five specific components aimed at strengthening the ISIA Secretariat; establishing professional training programs and an online examination centre; improving ISIA’s advocacy and communications activities; and hosting an annual congress.
These five components involve:
· supporting the CEO role;
· assisting with the AVI Support and Training Officer roles;
· establishing the online Examination Centre;
· supporting our inaugural Annual Congress; and
· supporting ISIA’s role in its advocacy, awareness and communications responsibilities.
These key areas of focus are consistent with ISIA’s strategic plan and is aimed at moving ISIA along its Roadmap towards achieving its ultimate goals; which are to:
· become a full members of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC); and
· achieve an appropriate level of competency as a Professional Accounting Organisation in order to ISIA to be able to effectively deliver on its mandates under the Accountants Act; and
· enable ISIA to adopt and operate under a business model which should reduce donor support over the next few years, to a point where ISIA can be fully self-funding its operations sustainably.
ISIA website upgrade and re-design
The Secretariat has initiated work to upgrade and re-design the ISIA website. The intention is to make the website more user-friendly and interactive compared to the current state.
These upgrades are aimed at allowing potential members to apply for membership online; enable it to send regular updates to members on key developments within ISIA thereby keeping members updated ISIA’s progress;
MOU between SIGAS and ISIA
Work is progressing on the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Solomon Islands Government Accounting Services (SIGAS).
SIGAS is the body that looks after the accounting cadre within the public sector. ISIA, as the body mandated to develop and regulate the accounting profession in Solomon Islands (as per the Accountants Act 2010), is responsible for the regulation and development of the accounting profession in Solomon Islands. This means that we are legally mandated to do this for both the private sector as well as the public sector.
Accordingly, the CEO has commenced liaising with the Accountant General (who is the head of SIGAS) and his staff to progress work on developing an MOU to guide and operationalise the relationship between ISIA and SIGAS. To date SIGAS has compiled a comprehensive database of its membership which will be able to be used to negotiate appropriate classes of membership for SIGAS officers who migrate across to ISIA.
Women in Accountancy Networking Initiative
The CEO has progressed her plans to establish ISIA’s Women in Accountancy Network. This initiative is funded under the Australian Government Grant; and is a reflection of ISIA’s commitment to its gender and social inclusion plans.
The inaugural networking event was successfully held at the Heritage Park Hotel on the 22nd of July 2020. Around 90 women attended, and an interim committee will be set up subsequent to this event with volunteers who are passionate about progressing this initiative further.
Online CPD training packages
We have continued to explore available opportunities with other well-established PAOs regarding online training packages for CPD to offer to members; as well as other possible programs from international training institutes committed to supporting the development of accounting in the region.
2020 Annual General Meeting
The Council and the CEO are currently liaising and working on plans to host the 2020 AGM as soon as possible. The Secretariat will continue to give updates to members in this regard.
As mentioned earlier, both the Council and the Secretariat of the Institute remain committed to successfully navigate ISIA through these very unprecedented and challenging times. We will continue to work to ensure that ISIA continues to progress through with its plans to develop the Institute to achieve its overall goals and objectives.
Pamela Alamu CPA
Chief Executive Officer
28 July 2020