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SAICA NEWS: CA(SA) Chair for the Commonwealth AC

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Bruce Freer CA(SA) was nominated for membership of the Commonwealth Secretariat Audit Committee (AC) by the SAICA UK region, through the South African High Commission and was elected Chairman at the
3 December 2009 AC meeting.

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 54 countries that enables member states to support each other and work together towards shared democratic and development goals. Member countries come from Africa (19, including South Africa), Asia (8), the Americas (2), the Caribbean (12), Europe (3) and the South Pacific (10).

The Commonwealth Secretariat (the Secretariat ), based in London, has 12 divisions/units, which carry out programmes of work based on mandates set by the heads of government of member states. It does this by providing technical and policy development, assistance and advice. The Secretariat currently employs around 275 full-time staff, drawn from about three quarters of the member states. The Secretariat’s work is financed by three separate budgets. The budget of the Secretariat itself is based on assessed contributions, as is the Commonwealth Youth Programme. The Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation (CFTC) is funded by voluntary contributions. For the 2008/2009 financial year, the Secretariat’s budget was 14.6 m pounds sterling, the CFTC`s 28.3m pounds, and the CYP 2.7m pounds.

As Chairman, Mr Freer will need to ensure that the AC fully carries out its responsibilities as set out in the AC`s Terms of Reference. AC members are usually appointed for a period of three years, with a possible three year extension, providing certain requirements are met.

SAICA congratulates Mr Freer on his appointment and wishes him well over the next few years.

2009 Disciplinary notice – trainee accountants

In terms of SAICA’s Training Regulations, depending on the circumstances under which a trainee’s contract is cancelled, before the trainee may enter into a new contract, the Professional Conduct Committee (PCC)/Training Requirements Committee (TRECO) must consider whether or not such trainee is a fit and proper person to be allowed to enter into a new contract. This consideration usually takes place when a trainee has been dismissed by the Training Office following a disciplinary hearing, and now wants to join a new firm to complete their training. The PCC/TRECO met three times in 2009, and dealt with 17 matters, an increase of 50% over the previous year. The cases are summarised in thetable opposite.

Although it may appear that some of the findings are inconsistent for what appears at face value, to be similar transgressions each case is handled on its own merits. Various mitigating and aggravating factors are taken into account, particularly the fact that the trainee has shown genuine remorse and has learned from the experience.

Offence

Finding

Poor time-keeping/poor billing of time to clients

Reasonable explanation

Constant late-coming/failure to complete instructions

10 months cancellation penalty
12 months added to contract

Failure to record hours/not booking time to clients/not recording overtime/constant late-coming

6 months cancellation penalty
12 months added to contract

Not serving full notice period

3 months cancellation penalty

Incorrectly submitting travel claims/“ghost” ticking

6 months cancellation penalty
No RPL granted
Compulsory attendance of ethics course

Unauthorized access to firm’s computer/disclosing confidential information to other staff

6 months cancellation penalty
9 months added to contract

Claimed salary increases when not entitled

6 months cancellation penalty
3 months added to contract

Extended rotation period in home town contrary to instructions

6 months cancellation penalty
12 months added to contract

Alleged irregularities on DNA forms

10 months cancellation penalty reduced to 3 months

Unauthorised pornographic images on computer/sexual harassment of male and female colleagues

Not entitled to register contract until July 2010
6 months cancellation penalty
No RPL granted

Gross insubordination/missed deadlines/constant late-coming/ignored work requests/not responding to e-mail messages or telephone calls

6 months cancellation penalty
6 months added to contract

Breakdown in trust relationship

6 months cancellation penalty
6 months added to contract (suspended)

Failure to repay Thuthuka bursary

No registration of contract until bursary repaid with interest

Absconding from Training Office

No registration of contract until trainee responds to Committee

Stealing blank cheque from client, attempting to cash

Not entitled to register contract for period of 3 years

Falsely recording study time to client

6 months cancellation penalty
12 months added to contract

Absconding from Training Office

6 months cancellation penalty

SAICA NEWS

SAICA Education Fund special awards 2009

On 30 November 2009 the Chairman of the SAICA Education Fund, Mr Colin Beggs, handed out special awards to academics who were nominated by Heads of Department at various universities. These awards are in recognition of the exceptional contribution made by academics who have gone above and beyond normal teaching activities in order to promote and further SAICA’s transformation and growth strategy.

The success of the Thuthuka Project is evident in the increase of throughput pass rates. The project success can be attributed to the dedication, care and enthusiasm shown by these committed academics.

These exceptionally dedicated individuals have sacrificed their holidays in order to arrange summer schools for the Thuthuka students. They have raised money towards facilities for the Thuthuka students, organised Thuthuka sports events and assisted the students with their community and social upliftment projects.

The drive and enthusiasm shown by these academics to transform our profession is highly commendable and we wish to thank our unsung heroes.

The SAICA Education Fund Special Awards nominees for 2009 were: Dr. June Pym (UCT), Mr Riaan Rudman (SUN), Ms Sonnette Smith (UP), Prof. Jeff Rowlands (NMMU), Mr Jelvin Griffioen (UJ). Mrs Di van der Merwe was also recognised for her contribution towards transformation during her time at the CA Edentrust and SAICA.

Thuthuka 2010

Thuthuka 2010
The Thuthuka initiatives continued to have a huge impact in 2009, with 816 students studying at undergraduate level through the Thuthuka Bursary Fund, almost 300 students supported on various programmes at postgraduate level and tens of thousands of students reached through school initiatives. The overall impact can be seen in the growth in the numbers of African and Coloured Chartered Accountants -from 544 in 2002 when the Thuthuka initiatives first started to 2161 in 2009. This constitutes an average annual growth rate of 50%.

Reflecting on the past year, there are a number of very clear focus areas that have emerged for 2010.

Funding
Funding was thrown into the spotlight at the end of October when Fasset (the Seta for Finance, Accounting, Management Consulting and Other Financial Services) indicated that it would no longer be funding the postgraduate studies of the Thuthuka Bursary Fund students. This has forced a rethink around the funding model and 2010 will see efforts focussed on creating a sustainable platform of funding for the Thuthuka projects. Thanks to the efforts of ABASA and the TBF, we have managed to secure the funding required for the 2010 post graduate students. The Thuthuka initiatives currently require approximately R100 million per year to run. This funding comes from numerous sources including the Chartered Accountancy profession, commerce and industry, government sources and foundation funds.

With the CA Charter finally gazetted, a renewed emphasis will be placed on the 2014 transformation targets and it is critical that sustainable funding is obtained for the Thuthuka initiatives.

Stakeholder relationships
An obvious focus will be maintaining our stakeholder relationships and building new relationships to ensure the sustainability of the Thuthuka projects both in terms of funding and service provision.

Distance education
Many years ago it was the norm to study through distance education while completing a training contract. The role of distance education as a route to qualifying as a CA(SA) has however decreased to the point where the majority of students who are successful in Part 1 of the Qualifying Exam have studied through a programme at a residential university.

SAICA will continue to work with distance education providers to find solutions to the challenges faced by students on these programmes. A specific focus will be placed on the postgraduate level programmes where the pass rate is about 30% below the pass rate of students completing their postgraduate studies at residential universities.