The separation of bank accounts into FCA and RTGS FCA accounts is a cause for concern for the accounting profession in terms of reporting in particular for companies that report globally, a breakfast meeting to mark the Global Ethics Day heard yesterday.
Participants at a round-table breakfast meeting organised by ACCA Zimbabwe to mark the fifth annual Global Ethics Day, raised concern on how ethical it will be to report RTGS balances (cash and cash equivalents) as US dollars, when the funds are held in separate RTGS FCA accounts.
The accountants who participated said there is pressure on the profession to report figures that make sense and at the same time not affecting the overall figures for the foreign parent which would want to consolidate the figures.
In their code of ethics, accountants are required to be associated with information that is accurate, and the latest development makes it an ethical dilemma.
This week, Pick n Pay South Africa reported the 30,4 percent turnover growth delivered by TM Pick n Pay for the 26 weeks ended August 26, 2018 in “local currency terms” and yet the country is using US dollars.
The ACCA discussion focused on encouraging organisations to explore the role of ethics in business as well as highlighting ethical challenges that the accountancy profession faces in the digital era.
Professional accountants around the world have consistently viewed good ethical behaviour as essential as it helps to build trust in the digital age. It is believed that strong ethical principles and behaviour will become more important and ethical behaviour will be an important enabler to build trust.
However, ethical behaviour in business is a moving target, and participants at the breakfast meeting said the way transactions are now being conducted, including mobile money transactions, poses ethical dilemmas to accountants.
In light of this, participants exchange notes saying building knowledge of emerging technologies and digital issues is paramount.
Giving remarks, Auditor General Mildred Chiri, said some of the ethical dilemmas that accountants are now having to deal with are remnants from the hyperinflation era, which must, however, be eradicated from “our traditional culture as Africans.”
She said issues of ethics are topical and sessions on ethics are important and such dialogue must be continued so that ethics are instilled in our people.
Speaking on the side-lines of the breakfast meeting, the secretary for Public Accountants and Auditors Board (PAAB) Mr Admire Ndurunduru, applauded ACCA for organising an event to mark Global Ethics Day: “We need to acknowledge ACCA, and it’s very important, and in future we need a wider stakeholder group of the accounting profession.”
“I think this is a good start, and that message that Zimbabwe is open for business, this is a Global Day and we have also celebrated it, so main-streaming ethics, and the role of the profession to support businesses.
“There is a need to speak out ethics and we have already adopted the Code of Ethics on 26 February 2018.”
The Global Ethics Day falls on the 17th of October (yesterday) this year and is the fifth annual event organised by the Carnegie Council to encourage organisations to explore the role of ethics in a globalised world, including ethics business.
As a profession, accountancy has always been ahead of the curve both in understanding the importance of ethics and in embedding ethical behaviour into practice.
ACCA reportedly, was the first accountancy body to add an ethics module to its qualification in 2007.
The breakfast meeting was attended by accounting and audit professionals including Auditor General Chiri, PAAB secretary Mr Ndurunduru, Institute for Sustainability Africa, chief executive Mr Rodney Ndamba and Deputy Chairperson of ACCA Zimbabwe Network Panel Mr Elliot Chatima.