15 May 2008

Nigeria: House Halts Proliferation of Accounting Bodies

Abuja — The House of Representa-tives yesterday threw out a Bill seeking to establish the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants of Nigeria (CIMA), saying it could lead to the proliferation of accounting bodies in the country.

Hon. John Halims Agoda, who represents Ethiope federal constituency of Delta State, sponsored the Bill and seconded by Hon. Jumoke Okoya-Thomas.

During deliberations at the plenary, members posit that the passage of the Bill would give room for proliferation, as there are at present several bodies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN), Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) and Chartered Institute of Taxation in Nigeria (CITN) now regulating the practice of Accountancy in the country.

When the Speaker of the House, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, put the Bill to vote, the members unanimously rejected the passage of the Bill putting to rest the agitation for the establishment of CIMA.

ICAN had sought the intervention of the National Assembly through legislation to subsume other accounting and taxation bodies in the country, in a draft copy of "An Act to Amend the Institute of Chartered Accounts of Nigeria Act 1965 And for Matters Connected therewith".

ICAN had proposed an amendment to section 15 (4) of the Act that set it up to read that "The Council may organise, establish, finance and maintain a scheme, system or arrangements for practice assurance, consisting of the inspection, monitoring and review of the professional and business efficiency and competence."

Hons. Gbenga Onigbogi, Gbenga Oduwaye, Peter Odebunmi, Jaiyeola Ajatta, and Ganiyu Olukolu, who jointly sponsored the Bill also seek the establishment of a Council of Accountants, with a president, vice-president, 1st deputy vice-president, president and 2nd deputy vice-president.

Other provisions in the Bill also seek to streamline the operations of all accounting and taxation firms or associations in the country.

But the Bill was followed by protests from the CITN, ANAN, and the Centre for Information Technology and Systems (CITS) among others.

In separate presentations at a public hearing by the House Committee on Finance yesterday, the associations tore apart the contents of the ICAN Amendment Bill, summarising the intention of the Bill as seeking to whip all other professional bodies into line.

Renowned accountant, Chief Akintola Williams, however, said the essence of the Act was to sanitise and regulate the accounting profession.

Williams argued that he was in the position to know when things were going wrong with regulation and standards of practice.

"I appeal to the House to ensure that the bill is passed to sail smoothly to the Senate," he stated.

The President of CITN, Mr. Kamarudeen Ayodele Adigun, told the panel that its enabling law gave CITN the power to regulate taxation in the country. He argued that by the new ICAN Act, the latter planned to whittle down the powers of CITN.

He said: "ICAN wants total monopoly; it is dabbling into the areas of other bodies because it does not believe in the separation of functions. We are not saying that ICAN should not collect tax, but they have to be registered in accordance with our enabling law to practice." ANAN President and Chairman of Council, Mr. Samuel Nzekwe, said that his group was opposing four sections of the amendment for "lacking reasonable action"

He listed them as Sections 2B, 14, 21 and 22.

Nzekwe said: "We totally reject the amendment because when these sections are deleted, the whole essence of the amendment comes to no effect. There is a valid court judgment on this matter and they know.

"There is an attempt by ICAN to falsify financial reporting; this is a very serious matter and we call on you lawmakers to take note."

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