The Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, Minister of Financial Services, contributed to today’s Parliamentary Debate on the new Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants Bill, 2015. She said the legislation signals to the world – and especially international regulators – that the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) and the members who comprise it are serious about their commitment to international compliance and quality standards.

BICA presently is governed by The Public Accountants Act (Chap. 364) which provides for the existence of the Institute, the registration and licensing of its members, discipline of its members, offences and penalties for its members and regulations.

The Minister pointed out that as a member of the International Federation of Accountants, The Bahamas has specific mandates, as defined in its Statements of Members Obligations, which seek to ensure BICA’s compliance in a number of areas, including Quality Assurance, International Education Standards for Professional Accountants, International Auditing and Assurance standards, A Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants based on the IESBA (International Ethics Standards Board for Accounting), International Accounting Standards (IPSAS), and Investigations and Discipline. The new Act which will replace and replace the existing legislation, will empower BICA to carry out the mandates of the IFAC. For example, key provisions include the introduction of a public practice committee with “*responsibility for ensuring that the high professional standards of the public accounting profession are maintained by the members of the institute who are licensed to engage in such practice.*” The Act also empowers the BICA Council to prescribe the requirement for continuing professional education and also to engage in practice monitoring and peer review to overcome the inherent challenges associated with self regulation. Part IV of the Bill comprehensively deals with the professional misconduct and discipline of registrants, the complaints process, the committees that deal with complaints i.e.; the investigative committee, the disciplinary committee and the Appeals Committee. Provisions for penalties to be imposed are addressed as well.

Minister Strachan pointed out to her parliamentary colleagues that BICA is well served by this legislation, which has created a framework for the complete modernization of the profession. Importantly, appropriate clauses allow for the smooth transition of the organization from one legislative structure to the other by transferring all matters, complaints, property rights, liabilities of the former institute to the new institute created by this new legislation.

She concluded: “*The Accounting Profession is critical to the sustainable development of our country and this legislation will further enhance our reputation both here and abroad as a first class financial jurisdiction*.”