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BAOA keeps close eye on beleaguered KPMG

The Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) continues to monitor the South Africa situation involving auditing giant, KPMG, with keen interest following a well-publicised saga involving Gupta Group of Companies.

BAOA Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Duncan Majinda told this publication this week that there are notable occurrences including some key KPMG clients having migrated away from the KPMG client portfolio. “These included the South African Auditor General, in addition there are allegations of a possible loss of 400 jobs,” Majinda said.

“While the problem is localised in South Africa, there is a concern that global network could also be affected. Botswana is concerned that worst-case may reflect KPMG’s going concern status being threatened, potentially with a significant impact upon the country’s auditing landscape as KPMG audits about 70 percent of the commercial banks in Botswana.” Majinda indicated that another concern is that under normal circumstances, standard international practice has established the Mandatory Audit Firm Rotation which is now in progress in South African and other parts of the world.

“Under the circumstances, the KPMG situation could compromise the audit rotation and other aspects across all firms in Botswana, particularly that some decisions are taken at global firm level,” argued Majinda. The investigations in South Africa on the KPMG saga are still ongoing from various investigating authorities including the South African Audit Regulator, and Independent Regulator Board of Auditors (IRBA).

The results are expected in late November to December 2018 according to BAOA supremo.  “Pending the outcome of the investigations, the Authorities in Botswana will rely on undertakings by the global firm which has instituted a regime of clinical internal control protocols at firm level,” he said. “These monitoring control ecosystems are aimed at the review strengthening of controls and governance frame works within the firm along the lines of King IV. We believe a set of remedial actions by the global firm have been introduced in the area of the audit quality control.”

PERFORMANCE OF LOCAL AUDITORS

BAOA has a broad mandate as an independent regulator of the accounting and auditing profession in Botswana and oversees among others; the auditors and audits firms; professional bodies like BICA, ACCA, CIMA; financial reporting of public interest entities and their corporate governance and, standards  setting of auditing, financial reporting, accounting education and code of ethics. “In essence, the Authority has an across the board and the overall oversight of the entire accountancy profession in the country,” said Majinda.

“Our main interest is audit quality and the compliance with international standards on auditing and that the assurance they give on financial statements is credible and appropriate.” According the BAOA CEO, in summary, 70 percent of the auditors largely meet the required auditing standards while 30 percent require some improvement in their quality.

Majinda noted that auditors and audit firms that do not meet the expected standards lose their practising licenses, indicating that so far, three sole practitioners have lost their practising certificates since the Authority started its reviews in 2013. Interestingly, Majinda observed following an introduction of a new area in the mandate of the institution, regarding corporate governance and financial reporting monitoring, it has merged that private and listed companies, and banks perform significantly better than state-owned enterprises

DIFFERENTIAL PERFORMANCES BETWEEN PRIVATE AND PUBLIC SECTOR

According to Majinda, poorly constituted boards without requisite balance of knowledge, skills and expertise are the main problems of poorly performing entities. “The engine of a car is the most important component of the car without which it cannot operate. By the same token, in an organisation, the Board and executive management is the engine of the entity,” he argued.

“Private and listed companies have very strong boards constituted along best international practice through corporate governance codes like King III and King IV.  Parastatals on the other hand are dominated by pre-determined ex-officio appointments so that if there is such a balance, it is by coincidence rather than design.” Majinda said committees such as Remuneration, Nominations, Risk are not common with parastatals.

He however said, other determining factor maybe the fact that these public institutions have different mandates, as some are commercially oriented while others are geared towards providing a public good or service where commercial initiatives are constrained through, for example, controlled prices and levies. “That notwithstanding, good corporate governance can be applied right across industries and sectors, public or private, profit making or non-profit making, to ensure efficiency, effectiveness and economy in doing business,” he insisted.

Majinda stated that entities that fall short of expected standards may end up losing their practising certificate. “For other entities the law provides for heavy penalties and the regulator can also report them to their corresponding regulators and shareholders,” he said. BAOA recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Public Enterprises Evaluations and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) and together they will agree a coordinated way of instituting performances monitoring and compliance controls.  

Majinda said, as President Mokgweetsi Masisi and Minister of Finance and Economic Development indicated their expectation of BAOA in the inauguration speech and budget speech respectively, it is in the interest of the public public for the state-owned entities to perform to expected standards and achieve the objectives for which they were established. “The other expectation is that of proper accountability so that the true figure of taxes due to government are declared and paid. The expectations are, therefore, legitimate and subject to the availability of resources to implement them, the profession should react accordingly,” he said.

ON HAVING TOO MANY REGULATORS

There is believe that Botswana have too many regulators such that they end up of cancelling each other’s work therefore creating a duplication. Majinda however does not believe this is necessarily true, indicating that the occurrence is bound to happen where an institution is regulated by various regulators. Majind said, an example can be a listed bank with an insurance arm for its loan book and a pension fund.

“Since the bank is listed, the BSE will regulate it to ensure that it complies with listings requirent; the Bank of Botswana will regulate it to ensure compliance with the banks’s prudential requirement; NBFIRA will regulate its insurance and pension business and BAOA will regulate it to ensure compliance with financial reporting, auditing and corporate governance,” he argued. “By the virtue of its presence in all these sectors, this bank could find itself being subject to regulation by four different regulators.”

Majinda contended that while there is a potential albeit limited overlap in the regulators’ mandates, albeit in a limited number of cases, the regulators have signed MoUs to buttress the potential duplication effort.“The allegations of multiple regulation are by those entities that are active in many different sectors and therefore do not want regulation by many regulators, however, it is not possible for one regulator to take care of all these difference business segments.,” he said.

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