The Asia and Pacific region are no strangers to pandemics or crisis, having tackled the consequences of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, the influenza A H1N1 outbreak in 2008, and the 2008 global financial crisis. In dealing with previous and current adversity, the accountancy profession in the region has had to adapt to stay relevant and alert for the benefit of its members and the profession.
Although this pandemic presents unprecedented challenges for professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) it has not stopped their efforts to serve their members and the profession in the spirit of the public interest and the greater good.
Over the past several weeks, IFAC has spoken with a number of our member organizations in the region to understand how they are coping and share their experiences with the wider global accountancy profession. While every organization has its own set of challenges to overcome their insights may help others proactively tackle the crisis.
Many PAOs have established web pages and online resource centers dedicated to COVID-19. Some examples include:
- Chartered Accountants Australia New Zealand Coronavirus Resources
- CPA Australia: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Impact, Resources and Support
- Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants COVID-19-CPA Information Centre
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of India COVID-19 Online Resources
- Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants COVID-19 Series
- Malaysian Institute of Accountants COVID-19 Resources
Member organizations are adhering to local government advisories on social distancing and working from home, which has affected operations, continuing professional development (CPD) and seminars, and examinations. Some organizations are postponing exams and others are taking their CPD and seminars online. For example, the Mongolian Institute of Certified Public Accountants has moved its training online, the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh has postponed classes, the Malaysian Institute of Accountants’ CPD programs and courses are now delivered through e-learning channels, and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India’s Digital Learning Hub provides free courses and publications to its members.
Member organizations also acted swiftly to develop technical guidance for their membership. Uncertain times can cause confusion especially if there are deadlines to be met in preparing and reporting on financial statements. Recent technical guidance for practitioners includes:
- CPA Australia: Impact of COVID-19 on reporting entities and auditors
- Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal: Precautions to be Taken Against COVID-19 by Audit Firms
- Institute of Singapore Chartered Accountants: AGS 12 Group Audits – Inaccessibility of Component Auditors’ Work Papers and Other Considerations
- Thailand Federation of Accounting Professionals: Technical and Regulatory Compliance Advisory (in Thai)
- Vietnam Association of Certified Public Accountants: Guidance on extensions of reporting deadlines for 2019 audited financial statements due to the impacts of COVID-19 (in Vietnamese) and Key Technical Considerations for F/S Auditing in COVID-19 Crisis (in Vietnamese)
In speaking with our members from Cambodia, Chinese Taiwan, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Singapore, and others, many acknowledged that similar to past events, the accountancy profession has an important role to play in rebuilding economies and society and PAOs are ready to tackle these challenges when it is time to do so.
IFAC applauds our members and stakeholders, especially our regional IFAC Network Partners, ASEAN Federation of Accountants, Confederation of Asian and Pacific Accountants, and the South Asian Federation of Accountants, for doing their part to sustain the profession and serve society.
We invite you to check out our COVID-19 Resources from IFAC’s Network web page, which is continuously updated with content from our member organizations, Forum of Firms members, and others, as well as original content from IFAC.