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President of ICAB, Lydia McCollin (left), in conversation with Barbados’ High Commissioner to Canada, Reginald Farley and Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Investment, Marsha Caddle, yesterday morning.

‘Accountants key’

IF Barbados is to achieve economic growth, the country needs accountants.

So says Lydia McCollin, President of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB). She made these comments while delivering remarks at the accounting body’s annual conference held at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre under the theme “Under Construction – Building Blocks to Recovery”. She maintained that the accounting profession has a critical role to play in ensuring that there is transparency and accountability in financial management and that there is trust and reliability over information decision-making processes.

“Financial information audited by accountants in practice is relied upon by analysts, investors, regulators and tax authorities, to name a few. The investor group is probably the most significant group for Barbados, as we transition from the stabilisation to the positioning stage of our rebuilding. Investors will need timely, reliable and trusted information and if this cannot be guaranteed, it could put at risk the local and foreign investments that we need to stimulate the economy,” she warned.

To that end, she said it is vital that all accountants, whether in practice, in business or the public sector, continue to lead the charge in the production of timely and reliable financial information and financial statements. The ICAB President’s remarks came as she noted she was pleased that Government, in its new Public Financial Management Act, sets out very strict guidelines for the internal and year-end financial reports for its entities, hinting that the existing crop of accountants was up to the task.

“There are companies currently in the private sector whose monthly reports must be submitted within five days of the month-end and the year-end audit completed and the financial statements issued within 90 days of the year-end, for some it is 60 days. I am therefore confident that the reporting timelines set by the Government for its entities can be achieved with the right resources,” she stated.

She made the point while noting that ICAB is committed to assisting Government in meeting some of its objectives, including those relating to corporate governance, public financial management and the reform of state-owned enterprises. With that in mind, she said they have met with the Minister in the Ministry of Finance, Ryan Straughn and representatives of the Ministry to discuss how ICAB can contribute and even lead on some of those initiatives. She indicated that since that meeting, they have developed a proposal outlining the approach to be taken and the activities to achieve the objectives, which are currently being reviewed by ICAB’s Council before submission to Minister Straughn.

Her comments came as she congratulated the Mia Mottley-led Administration on the recovery efforts. She suggested that the home-grown Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation plan was the key success factor in the Government’s ability to swiftly conclude an agreement with the International Monetary Fund for the Extended Fund Facility.

“To date, Barbados has met all of its targets under this programme. More recently, an agreement was reached by the Government and the external credit committee on restructuring of Barbados foreign debt, another significant improvement. ICAB congratulates Government on all of its achievements thus far, but there is still much work to be done,” she said. (JRT)

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