Strong, sustainable and relevant professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) are essential to growing and strengthening any country’s economy. Well-developed PAOs build and ensure a profession that is able to meet market demands—from producing trustworthy, high-quality financial and non-financial reporting to supporting the needs of small business to improving public financial management.
PAOs are also a strong driver of international standards and best practices adoption and implementation. PAOs are able to work with stakeholders to explain the importance of adoption and implementation and build the foundations and frameworks that work with standards. PAOs have the jurisdictional knowledge and experience to advocate for standards.
This fundamental belief in the power of PAOs plays a key role in IFAC’s work with and support of organizations on the road to becoming IFAC members and associates—meeting IFAC’s membership obligations requires a strong, sustainable and relevant PAO. This support includes the IFAC Accountancy Capacity Building Program, participation at regional and national events, and meeting with jurisdictional stakeholders and leadership to lend our support in advocating for international standards and other key elements of a vibrate national accountancy profession.
IFAC’s support for PAOs recently included participating in the Suriname Chartered Accountants Institute (SUVA) first annual conference, along with other global and regional accountancy representatives.
SUVA’s conference, “The Next Steps for the Accounting Profession in Suriname,” comes at a crucial moment in its development. It is currently advocating for a parliamentary decision on the new Accountancy Law, which would grant SUVA the necessary powers to develop and regulate the national accountancy profession.
As is true for any jurisdiction, a strong legal foundation is vital to driving and developing membership in a national PAO. PAO membership is a key aspect of the professionalization of accountants and auditors in the private and public sectors. PAOs support their members and ensure lifelong learning and adherence to a code of professional conduct. PAOs ensure qualified accountancy professionals who are safeguards against malpractices and misuse of funds, and can ensure that financial transactions are valid, at arms-length, and properly recorded and reported in accordance with high-quality standards.
PAOs are also vital to producing the competent and credible accountancy professionals who improve financial management and reporting and, therefore, transparency and accountability in business and government, which is essential to a socio-economic environment that fosters trust. Where there is trust and confidence, investment and economic growth follows.
In this way, a legal foundation begets a stronger PAO, which begets a stronger national profession and more qualified professionals.
And Suriname needs professional accountants and auditors. It faces a significant challenge to its future economic growth and development. According to IMF data, Suriname is projected to move from 1.5% GDP growth in 2018 to 3.0% in 2023. But this growth will only be possible if the country invests in the development of its accountancy profession. In a 2012 World Bank Report on Standards and Codes, it was noted that, “the corporate sector in general does not have access to professionally qualified accountants, of whom there are only 35 in Suriname, whereas the Chamber of Commerce and other stakeholders' estimates demand as 200-300.”
While the World Bank includes external auditors in this definition and number, it also indicates that many of the firms providing external auditing services also prepare financials for the same companies. Therefore, it is clear that the number of qualified preparers and accountants in business needs to increase significantly. Once these factors are accounted for, and today’s need compared to the Bank’s 2012 estimates, the true need for qualified accountancy professionals in Suriname may be more than 1,000, which is more aligned with countries of similar size in population.
The best way to supply this need and support Suriname’s future? Continuing efforts to support SUVA’s development and growth.