Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants (BICA) Chief Executive Officer Verily Molatedi says Botswana still needs to import skills of chartered accountants. BICA, a professional body of accountants that came into being in 2010 under the Accountants Act of 2010, currently has a total of 1119 registered chartered accountants. Out of this number, 448 are citizens and the rest expatriates. Molatedi observed that “as a country we still need to import the skills of chartered accountants because citizen numbers are still low.”
To date, Whitney Kalaote is the first-ever BICA graduate in December 2015.
Molatedi however indicates that, “we are looking to having more graduates in 2016 as well because the number of students have progressed to the advanced level of the qualification.” BICA aims to become the leading voice for the profession in Botswana, as well as providing a platform through which it can collaboratively seek solutions to challenges facing the country’s economy as a whole.
Often institutions encounter cases of misconduct by some professionals, such as corruption amongst others. Asked about cases of tampering with books and other corrupt practices in the profession, Molatedi said it depends on what is reported to the institute by the public. “Should a member be brought before us, a highly experienced committee looks at that and appropriate action is taken. We can only take action against accountants who are our members. We do not have the ability to discipline somebody who is not our member,” she explained.
Parliament recently passed the Whistleblowing Act which provides for the manner in which a person may disclose a conduct that is deemed adverse to the public interest to provide for the manner of reporting and investigations of disclosures of impropriety and the protection against victimisation of persons who make disclosures. Asked to comment on the subject by Botswana Guardian, BICA President, Rudi Binedell said whistleblowing is a contentious issue worldwide.
“At BICA we do not have specific policy on whistleblowing, however the ethics of our profession and requirements for confidentiality makes us best placed to protect people. We have structures that allow people to report unethical behaviour. Whistleblowing works in a few instances and others do not work; for instance, in organisations where people disclose with confidence, where you have a telephone line to receive anonymous calls and this is usually handled by independent audit firms,” explained Binedell Meanwhile, BICA held its two-day biennial conference last week under the theme, ‘leading, building and innovating in turbulent times’.
Binedell explained that as an institution they want their members to be leaders and assist in building the economy by innovation, hence transforming the economy into the future. “Only if we have proper transparency, accountability we will be able to attract foreign direct investment. Botswana competes with other countries for FDIs. We need to attract that to create jobs,” he emphasised.