The Public Accountants and Auditors Act [Chapter 27:12] ("the Act") provides for the registration of public accountants and public auditors and establishes the Public Accountants and Auditors Board (the "PAAB") as the registering and regulatory body for public accountants and auditors and their representative bodies. Its functions, under section 5 of the Act, include considering and determining applications for registration of individuals as public accountants or auditors, maintaining the Register of Public Accountants and Auditors, and defining and enforcing ethical practice and discipline among registered persons. Lately, the PAAB had requested the Minister responsible for the Act to make certain amendments to the Act to reflect contemporary global best practice in the accountancy profession and to extend the scope of the PAAB's protective function with respect to consumers of accounting services.
This Bill seeks to amend the Act in the following principal respects:
(a) to recognise persons engaged in certain occupations related to accounting as professionals in their own right with the right and obligation to be registered separately from public accountants and auditors, namely "general accountants" and "tax accountants":
(b) to recognise certain bodies as "associate constituent bodies" of the PAAB, namely the Institute of Certified Tax Accountants of Zimbabwe, the Institute of Administration and Commerce of Zimbabwe and the Southern Africa Association of Accountants who will represent the lower levels of the accountancy profession, namely general accountants and tax accountants); this recognition will supplement the recognition already given by the Act to the representative bodies of public accountants and auditors (which >vill now become "principal constituent bodies" of the PAAB); these bodies are responsible for setting examinations and professional standards for their members;
(c) to make provision that will enable the PAAB, in the near future, to keep a register of public accountants, public auditors, general accountants and tax accountants who arc engaged in any accounting profession otherwise than as independent contractors or partners in firms (at present only accounting professionals offering their services directly to the public are required to be registered).
In more detail, the individual clauses of the Bill contain the following provisions:
This clause sets out the Bill's short title.
This clause will replace existing definitions in the Act or insert new ones in line with the proposed amendments outlined above. or particular note are the definitions of "general accountant", "public accountant", "public auditor", and "tax accountant" which clearly delineate the respective competencies of each of those occupations, which collectively will become known as the "accountancy profession".
Clauses 3 and 20 (Second Schedule)
These clauses give effect to the proposals outlined in paragraph (b) of the preamble above. Provision is made for the future accommodation of additional or alternative "principal constituent bodies" and "associate constituent bodies", if this becomes necessary.
Clauses 4, 8, 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19
These clauses provide for consequential amendments. primarily arising from the fact that the PAAB will no longer be responsible for only one Register divided into two parts, but five separate registers, and that the PAAB will he responsible for additional classes of accountancy professionals.
This clause sets out the manner of appointment of members to the Board, with due regard for the need to maintain gender balance, to secure the representation of all the constituent bodies, and to maintain a preponderance of membership of the more qualified members of the accountancy profession.
Clauses 7, 9, 16 and 18
These clauses give effect to the proposals outlined in paragraph (a) of the preamble above.
Presently, it appears that only constituent bodies may take the initiative in disciplinary proceedings against their members: this clause makes it clear that the Board may initiate such action by referring any allegedly delinquent accountancy professional to the constituent body of which he or she is a member for disciplinary action by that body.
The effect of this clause is that, if any accountancy professional appeals against any disciplinary action by the constituent body of which an accountancy professional is a member, the decision of the constituent body will stand until the appeal is finally determined by the PAAB.
Presently, certain designations arc reserved for use by public accountants and auditors only; this clause will extend that privilege to certain designations descriptive of general accountants and tax accountants.
This clause seeks to substitute section 43 of the Act (concerning the power of the PAAB to make by-laws) by two new sections, one reiterating and expanding upon the PAAB 's power to make by-laws
for the internal governance of its affairs, and the other empowering the PAAB to make regulations for the general governance of the accountancy profession. In both cases the leave of the Minister
will be required before by-laws or regulations arc promulgated in the Government Gazette.