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BAOA embroiled in controversy

Publishing Date : 21 February, 2018


Almost mocking its principal objective and perhaps its foundation, irregularities at the newly established Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) have started cropping up. Already, the competence of the body along with its staff complement is in question, WeekendPost, has learnt.

BAOA was established through the Financial Reporting Act of 2010 with the principal objective of providing oversight to accounting and auditing services and to promote Standard, Quality and Credibility of providing financial and non-financial information by entities, including public interest bodies. Being the highest institution of Accountants in Botswana, it oversees notable bodies like Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) and accountancy bodies with local branches in Botswana such as Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA).

Although bearing such huge tasks including improving investor confidence in Botswana, it is understood that the authority is marred with questionable governance issues, financial mismanagement as well as basic accounting procedures. Immaculate sources at BAOA revealed to WeekendPost this week that while it oversees and audits notable companies and firms and are busy registering them, the organisation has only six Chattered Accountants to carry the function across the country.

“With this small number how then can they perform the task of auditing for such big Commercial Banks, Telecommunications networks, Insurance companies under Non-Bank Financial Institutions Regulatory Authority (NBFIRA), Debswana, BCL, Botswana Stock Exchange and Choppies among others,” one source who cannot be named for their protection said. Other companies audited by BAOA include Pension Funds, Medical Aid Societies, and Fund Managers. “How do you do corporate governance for all those many companies when you are failing to put in place proper procedures in your organisation,” the source wondered further.  

They pointed out that the organisation has a staff complement of 28 members who are mostly executives while others are temporary Accountants, while there are no junior staffers. Managers at the organisation are the only junior staff, the sources claimed. BAOA Chief Executive Officer, Duncan Majinda also confirmed to WeekendPost that there are 9 professional accountants at BAOA although he did not state explicitly that others are temporary. Out of the 9, he said 6 had been trained with the assistance of the World Bank.

He added “only two staff in the review Department are temporary and they are studying for professional qualifications while the rest have long term employment contracts.” Majinda however does not believe that the low staff numbers limits the performance of the organisation in any way. He said that the body is limited mainly by lack of resources and the availability of the required skills and expertise in the industry.

“We believe that under the circumstances, we have coped very well with the challenge. The review cycle approach which spread the entities to be reviewed over the cycle period helps the situation too and as we prepare to adopt a risk based approach, we hope to address the effect of the shortage of staff in an efficient and effective manner. Sometimes, it is not only the numbers of staff that matter but smart working and planning that results in exponential gains,” the BAOA CEO stated. According to Majinda, the Authority has already reviewed 24 audit firms comprising 36 practitioners and very useful recommendations have been made despite that the failure rate is still very high at about 30%.  

“Some audit practitioners have lost their practising certificates as a result and this underlines the seriousness of BAOA to raise standards of auditing in Botswana.  We have a very capable team which we should be proud of as a country,” he said. Surprisingly, despite the shortage of staff, he said they have even recently extended their mandate beyond audit quality reviews to include financial reporting monitoring and ensuring good practices in corporate governance of Public Interest Entities (PIEs). Botswana is one of the first four countries in Africa to establish an independent accountancy oversight authority, the other three being South Africa, Mauritius and Egypt.



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