Institute of Accountants: Our Structure

Over the last two weeks we introduced our readers to the Institute of Solomon Islands Accountants’ (ISIA) roles and responsibilities to its members and to practitioners in the private and public sectors.

We then explored ISIA’s mandates under the Accountants Act 2010 including the institute’s 10 key objectives and how the objectives filter through to ISIA’s functions as an accountancy body.

This week we will be introducing our readers to ISIA’s structure as a body corporate, describing the establishment and functions of the ISIA Council, the Council’s statutory committees, the ISIA Secretariat and the institute’s Disciplinary Board.

We will inform our readers about the specific roles and functions of each of these arms of the accountancy institute, revealing how each plays a role in the institute’s overall mandate to regulate and develop the accountancy profession in the Solomon Islands.

The Council

The ISIA Council is established under Section 11 of the Accountants Act 2010 and consists of 10 Council members including a President and Vice President.

Management and Control of the institute’s affairs are vested in the Council which acts as both the executive body and governing arm of the institute.

Councillors are elected into Office by registered members of the institute at its Annual General Meeting (AGM).

The ISIA Council is also responsible for carrying out the functions and powers of the institute in accordance with the Accountants Act and mandated to ensure that the institute is able to achieve its key objectives.

Furthermore the Council is responsible for carrying out any resolution or direction which may be passed at a meeting of the institute’s members.

In addition to these primary responsibilities, the Council also has the mandate to establish and appoint members to the Council’s sub-committees which the Council can then delegate its own or the institute’s powers and functions to.

The internal rules and procedures by which such sub-committees are to operate are also subject to the directions of the Council.

The Council is also responsible for making rules for the procedures for meetings of the institute’s members and for the meetings of the Council and the institute’s Standards and Registration Committees.

The Council is also responsible for approving any fees and relevant forms that are pertinent to the registration of members to the institute.

In terms of regulating and developing the professional standards of accounting and auditing practitioners in the country, the Council is responsible for ensuring that the conduct of its members and due performance of their professional obligations are of the highest professional standards.

In addition to this, the Council is also responsible for putting in place rules and procedures, including disciplinary measures for trust funds managed by members of the institute.

The Council is also responsible for making decisions on disciplinary matters relating to its members including grounds for dishonest, unethical or unprofessional behaviour.

The Secretariat

The ISIA Secretariat is established under Section 15 of the Accountants Act and is responsible for providing administrative support to the institute.

The Secretariat is headed by a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) who is also responsible for managing the daily operations of the Secretariat.

The CEO is supported by a Registrar of the institute who is mainly responsible for providing administrative support to the Council’s Registration Committee.

The Secretariat’s staff appointments and the terms and conditions of employment are subject to the Council’s directions.

The Secretariat is also responsible for providing administrative support to any sub-committees established by the Council and the institute’s Disciplinary Board.

The Standards Committee

The Standards Committee is a six person statutory committee established under Section 16 of the Accountants Act. The committee is chaired by a member of the ISIA Council.

Section 17 of the Accountants Act provide for the primary functions of the Standards Committee.

The committee undertakes research and on the basis of such research, makes recommendations to the Council for its consideration in making rules in accordance with Section 14 of the Act.

Recommendations from the Standards Committee may include minimum requirements for membership to the institute and for continuing professional development, education and training.

In terms of accounting and auditing practices in the country, the Standards Committee is also responsible for making recommendations on accounting standards and rules, as well as on the code of ethics for the institute’s members.

The Registration Committee

The Registration Committee is another of the institute’s statutory committees, established under Section 21 of the Accountants Act 2010. The four person committee is chaired by a member of the ISIA Council.

Section 22 of the Accountants Act provide for the primary function of the Committee which is to register persons qualified to provide accounting and auditing services in the Solomon Islands.

Renewals of registration are also subject to the Registration Committee’s approval.

Administrative support to the Registration Committee is provided by the ISIA Secretariat’s Registrar. The Registrar is responsible for maintaining and updating registers for each of the institute’s categories of membership and for the issuing of certificates of registration and re-registration.

According to the Accountants Act, any person practicing accountancy or auditing in the Solomon Islands without the Registration Committee’s approval, does so illegally and is therefore liable to a fine if found guilty of such an offence.

The Disciplinary Board

The Registered Practicing Accountants Disciplinary Board is a six member board with a Council member as chairperson.

Members of the Board are appointed by the Minister of Finance with recommendations from the Council.

The primary function of the Disciplinary Board is to inquire into complaints against a registered practicing accountant for unethical, dishonest or unprofessional conduct in the practice of accountancy.

According to the Accountants Act, any person may make a complaint to the Board in writing, requesting the Board to inquire into the complaint.

However, the Board has discretion to consider the elements of each complaint received by it to determine whether further inquiries are necessary.

In conducting an inquiry into a complaint against a registered accountant, the Board may give directions to the Registration Committee to suspend the registration of the accountant concerned.

Furthermore the board also has the legal mandate, under the Accountants Act, to summon witnesses to give evidence or to produce documents relevant to any of its inquiries.

The Accountants Act affords an accountant whose conduct is being inquired into, the right to examine witnesses summoned by the Board in person or through a legal representative.

At the conclusion of an inquiry, the board has the power to recommend de-registration of or refuse the renewal of registration of an accountant who is found to have been involved in unethical, dishonest or unprofessional conduct.

The board may also order the accountant to pay for the costs of an inquiry or impose a fine on that accountant. A similar fine may also be imposed on witnesses who refuse or fail to respond to the board’s summons or questions during an inquiry.

Actions of the Disciplinary Board are final and can only be appealed to the High Court of Solomon Islands.

Next week, we will be looking into ISIA’s roadmap to full membership to the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) and reveal what such membership would mean for accounting and auditing practitioners in the Solomon Islands.

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