Bahamas

Member Organizations

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  Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants

Legal and Regulatory Environment

  • Overview of Statuatory Framework for Accounting and Auditing

    The financial reporting framework in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas is set out in the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act, 2015 (the Act), which sets out the obligations for maintaining financial records established under the Companies Act of 1992 and the International Business Companies Act of 2010. The acts contain basic requirements for financial reporting by all companies and set requirements for the preparation of financial statements. There is no requirement to publish financial statements.

    The Act and its accompanying Regulations require all financial statements to be prepared and audited in accordance with IFRS and ISA, respectively. Companies incorporated under the Companies Act must appoint auditors unless the shareholders unanimously agree to waive this requirement. Only Licensed Practitioners, who are members of the BICA, have the legal authority to sign audit reports on financial statements.

  • Regulation of Accountancy Profession

    Prior to 2015, the accountancy profession was regulated by the Public Accountants Act of 1991 and the Public Accountants Regulation (Rules of Professional Conduct) of 1993. In 2015, The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act (the BICA Act) repealed and replaced the previous legislation.

    As of 2016, the BICA Act regulates the accountancy profession, defines professional accountants, establishes the requirements for entry into the profession, promotes the best standards of practice in financial reporting and in the expression of professional opinions, and authorizes the BICA to register and license professionals wishing to practice accountancy. Under the BICA Act, professional accountants are defined as persons registered as a members, associates, students, or licensees.

    The BICA’s membership comprises two membership categories: General Members and Licensed Practitioners. General Members may use the designation of Chartered Accountant. Licensed Practitioners have the legal authority to sign audit reports on financial statements and are required to be BICA members. The BICA licenses and maintains a register of licensed practitioners.

    The BICA does not have its own qualification program and accepts candidates from the following certifying bodies as specified in the Act:

    • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA);
    • Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada);
    • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA); and
    • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

    The BICA’s mandate includes establishing ethical requirements, carrying out investigation and disciplinary processes for its members, and conducting quality assurance reviews for its licensees.

    Accountants who are employed by business entities, government, academia, and other entities are not required to be members of BICA and are not subject to its regulation and oversight.

  • Audit Oversight Arrangements

    The profession is self-regulated and there is no independent audit oversight body in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas. However, Licensed Practitioners, who have the legal authority to sign audit reports on financial statements, must be members of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants and are subject to the institute’s ethical requirements, investigation, and disciplinary processes, and quality assurance reviews.

  • Professional Accountancy Organizations

    The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), established in 1971, regulates its accountancy profession in accordance with the BICA Act of 2015 (the Act). The Act empowers the BICA, among other responsibilities, to define professional accountants; establish the requirements for entry into the profession; promote the best standards of practice in financial reporting and in the expression of professional opinions; establish ethical requirements; carry out investigation and disciplinary processes for its members, as well as quality assurance reviews for licensees; and register and license professionals wishing to practice accountancy.

    The BICA has two membership categories: General Members and Licensed Practitioners. General Members may use the designation of Chartered Accountant. Licensed Practitioners have the legal authority to sign audit reports on financial statements and are required to be BICA members.

    The BICA does not have its own qualification program and accepts candidates from the following certifying bodies as specified in the Act:

    • American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA);
    • Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada);
    • Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA); and
    • Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

    The BICA is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC).

  • Projects or Other Information

    The major strategic goal for the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) during the last several years has been to update the legislation governing the accounting profession to introduce the following legislative changes: to establish BICA as a regulatory authority; to enhance the requirements for membership and licensing; to require mandatory continuing professional development for BICA members; to enhance the investigation and disciplinary procedures; and to set up a mandatory quality assurance review system.

    Parliament and the Upper House (the Senate) passed the BICA Act in April 2015 and it was then enacted in October 2015 after it was signed by the Governor General.

Adoption of International Standards

  • Quality Assurance

    In accordance with The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act of 2015 (the Act), all auditors (Licensed Practitioners) are required to be BICA members and are subject to quality assurance (QA) reviews. In line with this requirement, the BICA has adopted a QA review system that is in line with SMO 1 requirements, and is in the process of operationalizing the system through a tripartite contract with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. It is expected that the review visits will commence in Q3 of 2016 following the enactment of the Regulations.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • International Education Standards

    The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act of 2015 defines the requirements for entry into the profession in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas (The Bahamas). The Act grants authority to the BICA to implement those requirements.

    A candidate must be a certified member of one of the following foreign organizations to become a member of BICA: the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants, or the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. All of these bodies require their members to complete a professional accountancy education program, obtain practical experience, pass a final examination, and maintain continuing professional development (CPD). There is no examination on local tax and business laws in The Bahamas.

    The BICA has implemented mandatory CPD requirements for its members that are aligned with the revised IES.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • International Standards on Auditing

    Prior to 2015, the Public Accountants Act of 1991 and the Public Accountants Regulation (Rules of Professional Conduct) of 1993 required application of ISA in all statutory audits.

    In 2015, The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act of 2015 was adopted, which delegated to the BICA the responsibility to promote the best standards of practice in financial reporting and in the expression of professional opinions. In line with this responsibility, the BICA developed BICA Regulations that require the application of ISAs for all statutory audits. As of 2016, the Regulations are pending publication in the Official Gazette.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants

    The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA), empowered by the BICA Act of 2015, is responsible for setting ethical requirements for its members. Prior to the adoption of the BICA Act, the BICA had adopted the 2013 IESBA Code of Ethics for application by its members.

    In line with this responsibility, the BICA developed BICA Regulations that require application of the IESBA Code of Ethics and permit the BICA to incorporate amendments on an ongoing basis. As of 2016, the Regulations are pending publication in the Official Gazette.

    Current Status: Adopted

  • International Public Sector Accounting Standards

    The Ministry of Finance is responsible for setting public sector accounting standards in accordance the Financial Administration and Audit Act of 2010. The current public sector accounting standards are cash-based. The government has not adopted IPSASs. The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre’s technical assistance program is in progress to assist The Bahamas in moving toward the adoption of IPSAS for government financial reporting. No further information on the project is available.

    Current Status: Not Adopted

  • Investigation and Discipline

    The BICA Act of 2015 requires the BICA to establish a system for the investigation and discipline (I&D) of its members. The BICA reports in its 2016 SMO Action Plan that it has established an I&D system that is in line with SMO 6 requirements and is in the process of operationalizing it.

    Current Status: Partially Adopted

  • International Financial Reporting Standards

    Prior to 2015, the Public Accountants Act of 1991 and the Rules of Professional Conduct of 1993 required application of IFRS as issued by the IASB for the preparation of financial statements.

    The Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Act of 2015 delegated to BICA the responsibility to promote the best standards of practice in financial reporting and in the expression of professional opinions. In line with this responsibility, the BICA developed BICA Regulations that require the application of IFRS. As of 2016, the Regulations are pending publication in the Official Gazette.

    Current Status: Adopted

Disclaimer

IFAC bears no responsibility for the information provided in the SMO Action Plans prepared by IFAC member organizations. Please see our full Disclaimer for additional information.

Methodology

Methodology
Last updated: 04/2016
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