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One year after

Part Four

The Philippines will take its turn in hosting the 94th Asean Coordinating Committee on Services on October 21 to 25, 2019. It has been more than five years when the Philippines last hosted these simultaneous meetings of Asean regulators, professionals and its associations coming from the accountancy, engineering, architecture, surveying and health-care professions. The attendees to these meetings discuss various issues of concerns,
including the mutual recognition arrangement (MRA) for the various professional services.

For the accountancy services, the MRA was signed in November 2014. This was approved when I was then the Board of Accountancy (BOA) chairman. The MRA can be downloaded from this link: https://www.prc.gov.ph/sites/default/files/4.%20ASEAN%20MRA%20on%20Accountancy%20services_e.pdf.

As indicated in the MRA, the agreement intends to “promote the flow of relevant information and exchanging expertise, experiences and best practices suited to specific needs of Asean member-states.” Specifically, the MRA seeks to provide mobility of accountants in the Asean where there will be minimal restrictions imposed on qualified accountants pursuing employment opportunities in the various countries in the region. With the MRA, Filipino certified public accountants (CPAs) will be able to take advantage of the demand for accountants in Singapore, Malaysia, and the other Asean members and consider employment in these countries.

 Under the MRA, accountants in Asean can qualify to become Asean Chartered Professional Accountants. For Filipino CPAs, the process and requirements to become an Acpa are contained in guidelines or assessment statement issued by the Monitoring Committee established for this purpose by the Professional Regulations Commission (for details go to this link: https://www.aseancpa.org/images/ACPACC10_07_Revised_Philippine_Assessment_Statement_Accountancy_2018-1120A.pdf ).

I note that only a few Filipino CPAs have become Acpas. As indicated in the Asean CPA web site (https://www.aseancpa.org/), out of 3,770 Acpas registered as of the current date, there are only 18 Acpas coming from the Philippines. Indonesia leads with 1,291. It is surprising that Myanmar even has more registered Acpas with 403 compared to the Philippines. The BOA should look into the reasons for the low turnout of CPAs seeking the Acpa qualification. Are our Filipino CPAs shying away from becoming Acpa because they perceive that they can derive the benefit of mobility of accountants even without the Acpa credential? Or, should there be a more effective information dissemination and marketing effort to make our CPAs aware of the MRA and Acpa? A perusal of the PRC web site at https://www.prc.gov.ph/asean-mra shows that the Accountancy MRA has limited information, compared to its counterparts in the Engineering and Architecture professions.

To help my fellow accountants know more about the Asean accountancy landscape, I recommend reading the Asean Handbook on Accountancy Services that can be downloaded from https://www.aseancpa.org/images/FINAL_ASEAN_Handbook_03_Accountancy_Services.pdf.

Filipino accountants need to be aware and ready to meet the opportunities and benefits derived from the MRA and the Acpa. At the same time, we should all be ready to face the challenges from other Asean accountants that are gradually upgrading their skills to compete with their Asean neighbours.

To be continued

Joel L. Tan-Torres is a certified public accountant who placed No. 1 in the May 1979 CPA Board Examinations. He is currently a partner of Reyes Tacandong and Co. He was the former commissioner of the Bureau of Internal Revenue on 2009 and 2010, and the chairman of the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy from 2014 to August 2018.

This column accepts contributions from accountants, especially articles that are of interest to the accountancy profession, in particular, and to the business community, in general. These can be e-mailed to boa.secretariat.@gmail.com

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