Ordre des Experts Comptables de Tunisie
Member | Established: 1982 | Member since 1985
The OECT was established in 1982 and is currently governed by Law 88-108 on the Chartered Accountancy Profession. OECT is subject to oversight by the Ministry of Finance and its mandate includes: (i) setting auditing standards for the jurisdiction; (ii) setting ethical standards for its members; (iii) overseeing the practical experience component of the initial professional development requirements; (iv) setting continuing professional development requirements for members; (v) supporting the quality assurance reviews of all statutory audits carried out by the Control Committee; (vi) investigating and disciplining its members through the Control Committee; and (vii) ensuring appropriate functioning of the accountancy industry. Its membership consists of Chartered Accountants who are the only individuals are permitted to conduct statutory audits for public interest entities and companies over a certain size threshold in Tunisia.
OECT is a Member of IFAC and the following regional organizations: the Arab Federation of Accountants and Auditors, the Pan African Federation of Accountants, the Federation of Mediterranean Accountants, and the International Federation of Francophone Accountants.
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
While the Control Committee, as established under Law 88-108 on the Chartered Accountancy Profession, is legally responsible for establishing and operating a quality assurance (QA) review system for statutory audits, the OECT is actively involved in contributing to the implementation of the system by providing funding and technical support, with its staff comprising part of the teams that carry out the reviews.
OECT indicates that its main focus is to collaborate with the Control Committee to enhance the existing QA review system. OECT aims to achieve this through a tiered QA system. The envisioned system would consist of a quality control commission linked to the OECT that only reviews statutory audits; an independent oversight body known as the Institute of Assurance Services Control (IASC), which would have a wider remit and be responsible for reviewing all audit engagements and audits of public interest entities; and lastly, a quality committee within the OECT that would be responsible for supporting OECT members to ensure they are providing high quality services.
In 2013, the OECT approved new bylaws, which include the establishment of the quality control commission. Subsequently, the OECT formed a partnership with the World Bank to support the implementation of the IASC. Through the partnership, OECT participated in a knowledge exchange with the OEC Morocco and International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators in January 2015. In June 2015, a second workshop was held in Tunis to establish a Steering Committee and action plan with relevant stakeholders such as the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, and the Conseil du Marché Financier. Successive discussions were then initiated with the Minister of Finance and in October 2015, a draft report containing several recommendations for the plan of the proposed oversight system and QA review system was submitted to the Ministry of Finance. As of June 2017, the OECT has issued responses to the recommendations and the draft plan is still under consideration by the new Ministry of Finance as part of the larger project to enhance the Tunisian accountancy profession.
In the meantime, the institute notes it is supporting its members with the implementation of appropriate standards to enhance audit quality. It has adopted ISQC 1 and offers continuing professional development trainings on and disseminates ISQC 1 in French and English. OECT also liaised with another international body to obtain the French version of IFAC’s Guide to Quality Control for Small-and Medium-sized Practices in order to provide implementation guidance for its members. It is now organizing training courses based on the guide for 2017. Furthermore, the institute reports it has also developed a training program and case study to guide firms as they design and implement their quality control procedures.
Lastly, the OECT states that it disseminates updates on the activities of the IAASB as well as revised pronouncements to its members and strives to submit comments on exposure drafts related to quality control.
In its next Action Plan submission, OECT is encouraged to provide an update on the progress made in establishing and implementing the revised QA review system and the IASC. Relevant information would include OECT’s role in the related activities, the status of approval from the Ministry of Finance, and agreement to the action plan by key stakeholders.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
Initial professional development (IPD) requirements are stipulated in Tunisian law and universities deliver the required professional accountancy programs Accordingly, the OECT reports it is contributing to updating and improving the IPD requirements and overseeing the work experience component of the IPD program. Moreover, OECT is setting continuing professional development (CPD) requirements for its members, who are Chartered Accountants.
Primarily, the OECT oversees the practical experience component of IPD for Chartered Accountants and it indicates that it monitors practical experience placements and sets up training courses for trainees at the Institut de Formation de la Profession Comptable, a training institute that is affiliated with OECT and licensed by the Ministry of Employment and Vocational Training.
Moreover, the institute indicates that the educational IPD requirements are in the process of being modified as part of the Tunisian university system reform. The reform is expected to be completed by July 2017 and implemented during the next academic year. OECT states that it is contributing to the reform process through a task force collaborating with the Ministry of Higher Education, academics, and universities. The task force is charged with creating a complete accounting curriculum taking into consideration the IES, the model accounting curriculum of the Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development, the common content of professional accountancy qualifications, and other best practices worldwide. Additionally, as part of the reform process, the task force had planned to conduct a gap analysis of the IPD and CPD requirements in order to identify areas that might require improvements. OECT expected the analysis to be completed by April 2017; however, the results are not yet available.
In addition, the institute drafted CPD requirement regulations for its members, which are in line with IES requirements. These were approved during the 2013 Annual General Meeting and were scheduled for OECT Board’s approval in May 2017. Following the Board’s approval of the CPD regulations, the OECT reports that it intends to establish a monitoring mechanism to track members’ CPD compliance.
Furthermore, the institute has stated plans to establish a system of online CPD courses by the end of 2017 although this activity is subject to the availability of external funding.
Finally, OECT reports that it monitors pronouncements issued by the IAESB in order to promote their incorporation into national educational requirements.
As part of its next Action Plan submission, OECT is encouraged to review the revised IES with the objective of incorporating the requirements into its own education and training and promoting them to all relevant parties involved in the process of reforming the education and certification of professional accountants. In particular, OECT is encouraged to consider incorporating the competence-based approach into its CPD programming. Additionally, OECT is encouraged to provide an update on the status of the university system reform and its gap analysis of the accountancy educational requirements.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
The OECT is responsible for defining and drafting the applicable auditing standards subject to approval by the Ministry of Finance. In November 2016, OECT reports that it adopted the 2016 ISA as issued by the IAASB and translated into French by CPA Canada. The version becomes effective beginning December 15, 2017 although early application is recommended. Additionally, in January 2016, OECT adopted the ISRE 2410, ISAE 3400, and ISRS 4400 translated by the Instituut van de Bedrijfsrevisoren–Institut des Réviseurs d'Entreprises of Belgium (IBE-IRE).
OECT has detailed the process its Standards Committee has established to adopting ISA and other IAASB pronouncements on an ongoing basis. In general, OECT adopts ISA as issued by the IAASB and translated by CPA Canada or IBE-IRE; however, it will set up a task force whenever a significant change is introduced—for example, the new auditor report. The OECT indicates that its Standards Committee and technical team would benefit from additional resources and financing to fully implement its planned actions. It reports it has prepared a financing request and submitted this to the World Bank and the African Development Bank.
OECT notes that the World Bank is assisting the Ministry of Finance with a study related to the reform of audit and accounting profession, which covers a wide range of topics and may lead to major changes in the standard-setting process, among other areas. A draft report with recommendations was submitted to the Ministry in October 2015 and as of June 2017, OECT indicates that the draft is still under discussion due to government transitions.
In addition to its work on adopting and updating the applicable auditing standards, OECT also supports the implementation of the standards by delivering trainings, seminars, and other workshops for its members, and raising awareness about existing and new IAASB pronouncements. After the adoption of the updated standards, OECT reports that it reviewed its continuing professional development program to incorporate the updated standards. OECT notes that from May 2016–January 2017, it has held three workshops on the new auditor reporting standards and has other trainings on this topic planned for the remainder of 2017. Additionally, its Standards Committee prepared a guidance piece on the new audit report in French and circulated it to all OECT members.
Lastly, the OECT states that it reviews and disseminates exposure drafts issued by the IAASB to request comments from its members.
In its next Action Plan submission, OECT is encouraged to provide an update on the reform of audit and accounting profession and any changes in the standard-setting process.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
Under the oversight of the Ministry of Finance, the OECT is responsible for establishing ethical requirements for its members, who are Chartered Accountants. The institute first adopted the IESBA Code of Ethics in 2004 and in January 2016, adopted the 2009 IESBA Code of Ethics that was translated into French by the Conseil Supérieur de l’Ordre des Experts-Comptables and the Compagnie Nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes without modifications. Furthermore, the OECT indicates that it continues to monitor the issuance of French translations and amendments of the IESBA Code in order to disseminate them to members.
For example, OECT reports that it will establish plans to review the 2016 IESBA Code, which includes the new NOCLAR standard. However, OECT notes that the Tunisian Companies Law already contains some provisions that are more restrictive than those of the new NOCLAR standard. For example, an auditor may face criminal charges if they do not disclose to the procurer any non-compliance with legislations.
The institute reports that it encourages universities to update the accounting syllabus with the revised ethics requirements in order to introduce the standards to aspiring professional accountants. As part of these efforts, the institute states it is working to raise awareness amongst professors about the recently adopted Code of Ethics.
To support the implementation of its ethical requirements amongst its members, OECT notes that it reviewed its continuing professional development courses and introduced content on the revised ethical pronouncements. Additionally, OECT had organized and delivered a number of training courses on the Code of Ethics and related topics, such as independence and conflicts of interest, and provided its members with case study examples. Furthermore, OECT reports that in 2017 it set up an “Ethics Observatory” to monitor legal issues related to acceptance of audit engagements, independence, rotation, etc. to ensure members’ adherence to ethical requirements.
Lastly, the OECT also states that is in the process of developing a strategy to monitor the ongoing work of the IESBA. A component of this strategy entails making an effort to comment on exposure drafts issued by IESBA.
The OECT is encouraged to review the 2016 IESBA Code of Ethics, which becomes effective July 2017, with a view to adopt the latest version of the Code for its members and consider ways to promote its adoption at the national level. OECT is encouraged include plans within its Action Plan as to how it will raise members’ awareness of the new Code and support its implementation.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The Ministry of Finance is responsible for the adoption of public sector accounting standards in Tunisia and has not yet adopted IPSAS; however, in late 2016, the Ministry of Finance established an IPSAS Council with the objective of exploring the adoption and implementation of IPSAS. The OECT supports the adoption of IPSAS through its participation in the Ministry’s IPSAS Council and has created its own internal IPSAS Committee to further facilitate its participation in the IPSAS Council. Furthermore, the OECT reports that its IPSAS Committee President is also taking part in a government-led project to draft a law requiring application of IPSAS and pilot IPSAS-based accounting rules at the local government level.
In addition, OECT indicates that it has arranged a variety of conferences over the past four years with sessions intended to raise awareness about the importance of adopting IPSAS amongst government representatives. Additionally, OECT also reports that it offers continuing professional development (CPD) courses on IPSAS for its members and has included IPSAS courses in its 2017 CPD catalog.
Lastly, OECT states that it intends to participate in the international standard-setting process through its IPSAS Committee and is striving to be more informed of IPSASB initiatives.
In its next Action Plan submission, the OECT is encouraged to provide an update on the draft law to adopt and implement IPSAS as well as the pilot project happening with local government entities. The institute is further encouraged to consider disseminating information on updates issued by IPSASB as well as French translations of the standards—the 2013 Handbook is available in French—to relevant stakeholders.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
In accordance with Law 88-108 on the Chartered Accountancy Profession, the Control Committee is responsible for monitoring OECT members’ compliance with professional rules and standards and in the case of any infringements, it forwards the matter to OECT’s Disciplinary Chamber, which is responsible for implementing the investigative and disciplinary (I&D) procedures.
In 2014, OECT reports that it had conducted a review of the I&D system against the requirements of SMO 6 and noted that improvements were necessary in order to incorporate all the SMO 6 requirements; for example, the separation of its discipline and investigative procedures, the payment of fines as a possible sanction and suspension of decision against a member pending the hearing of their appeal. Subsequently, in 2015, the institute prepared a draft law to incorporate these necessary changes. The changes were passed by its Annual General Assembly and as of June 2017, the draft law is awaiting approval by the Ministry of Finance and Parliament. Due to the recent transitions and new Ministry of Finance, the OECT reports that this process has been delayed further.
The OECT reports that it organized a workshop in December 2015 in order to raise member’s awareness of the importance of complying with ethical and professional conduct requirements, as well as of the existing I&D mechanisms and states it will work to do the same once the new procedures are approved. Additionally, it notes that it annually prepares and distributes a CD containing all disciplinary judgements to raise awareness of the activities of the Disciplinary Committee amongst members.
In is next Acton Plan submission, OECT is encouraged to provide an update on its draft law that would permit the OECT to make the necessary changes to bring its I&D system in line with SMO 6 requirements. Similarly, it is also encouraged to update its Action Plan regarding its awareness-raising activities around the future I&D procedures.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
In Tunisia, corporate accounting standards are established by the Conseil National de la Comptabilité (CNC), which has issued national accounting standards—Tunisian Accounting Standards (TAS)—that are not aligned with IFRS.
At the national level, the OECT indicates that it continues to promote the adoption of IFRS and IFRS for SMEs through its support of and members’ participation in the CNC. The Ministry of Finance has recently undertaken a project to reform the accounting profession, including the standard-setting process. The OECT states that it is promoting the adoption of IFRS to relevant authorities during negotiations and discussions as the reform project proceeds. It also indicates it is promoting the re-launch of a 2012 project initiated by the Ministry of Finance to assess the possible fiscal impact of the adoption and implementation of IFRS for public interest entities; however, as of 2017, it is unclear if the OECT has been able to restart the initiative.
The institute also participates in regional and international workshops and seminars that promote the adoption of IFRS.
In order to raise awareness and enhance its members’ knowledge of IFRS, the OECT reports that it reviewed its continuing professional development program to include standard-related topics in courses and learning events and provides a link to French translations of the 2014 IFRS on its website. Additionally, the OECT also circulates guidance notes on the TAS issued by the CNC given that the IFRS are not yet the applicable standards in the jurisdiction.
Lastly, the OECT notes that it is developing a process to monitor IASB activities in order to provide comments on exposure drafts and review new and revised standards.
The OECT is encouraged to update and refine the SMO 7 section of its Action Plan following the guidance provided by IFAC staff. In collaboration with other relevant entities, OECT is encouraged to facilitate access to French versions of IFRS and IFRS for SMEs to key stakeholders and members of the profession.
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