Across the world, economies face the unprecedented impact of major simultaneous public health and economic crises. These circumstances require professional accountants and auditors to adjust their operations to virtual/remote settings and realign their services to address the needs of their clients. In the public sector, professional accountants have the responsibility to uphold accountability, transparency, and ensure ethical decision-making in the managing and disbursement of public funding. Professional accountants in business and in public practice are facing similar challenges and are expected to support fair and reliable financial reporting and disclosures in support of the public interest.
Further, IFAC’s International Standards Report: Global Status Report (2019) identified that over 120 member organizations operate in jurisdictions where English is not an official or a business language. In these jurisdictions, access to local language translations is essential to successful implementation of the international standards. In this context, the International Ethics Standards Boards for Accountants (IESBA), the Fédération International des experts-comptables et commissaires aux comptes francophones (FIDEF) and, the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) organized two webinars to discuss the practical ethics and independence challenges that are impacting the accountancy profession in Francophone and Anglophone countries due to COVID-19. More than 200 participants joined from over 20 countries across Africa including Algeria, Belgium, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Central African Republic, Chad, DR Congo, Ivory Coast, France, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea-Bissau, Haiti, Lebanon, Madagascar, Mali, Morocco, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The webinars featured presentations from:
- Ms. Noemi Robert an IESBA CAG member, and a panel discussion with Ms. Fatoumata Cisse Sidibe, FIDEF President, Mr. Leonard Ambassa, PAFA President, and Mr. Arnaud Debray, FIDEF Secretary General.
- Ms. Saadiya Adam, an IESBA member, and a panel discussion with Ms. Alta Prinsloo, PAFA CEO, and Ms. Lebogang Senne, PAFA Technical Director.
The conversations provided an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on professional accountants’ work and reiterated the importance of adhering to the International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants, (including International Independence Standards) to maintain professional judgement and maintain compliance with the professional ethical standards.
Additionally, FIDEF featured some of the IESBA resources that have been translated into French to facilitate the implementation of the IESBA Code. The discussion also highlighted the guidance produced by the IESBA on applying the Code’s conceptual framework during certain circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, including the IESBA Staff guidance on the ethics and independence considerations.
IFAC, IESBA, FIDEF, and PAFA will continue to collaborate during the pandemic to share guidance and advice. Readers can regularly refer to the IESBA support and resources web page and register and subscribe to the IESBA for updates.
View in English below:
View in French below: