ACCA Conference 2010 – Cheong Pui Yuen

Pui Yuen’s mentor

Mr Cheong Pui Yuen presented an interesting and honest paper entitled “Transforming the Public Accounting Profession – A Practitioner’s Perspective”.

He attempted to outline some ideas of how we (as an auditng entity, as a member of the public accountants, as customers/clients to audit firms and as accountancy body like ACCA) can respond to the impending changes as highlighted in the CDAS report.

As an auditing entity, you may to seriously think about the following:-
a) expanding scope of services offered;
b) consider gaining scale by working together in local and regional markets
c) explore increasing its capital base given the relax rules governing ownership
d) scenario planning with different audit exemption threshold ie. what if the threshold is increased current $5m to $10m etc
e) scenario planning with increased costs from higher quality expectation (and possibly with limited price increase)

As for customers/clients of auditing entities, Mr Cheong advised as follows:-
a) expect higher service quality;
b) pay a fair fees for service rendered;
c) don’t encourage fees cutting;
d) work with progressive/quality audit entities;
e) and lastly and very checkily he said, “pls don’t take away our resources unnecessarily”.

For accountancy bodies like ACCA, he opined that it should continue to step up its profile, collaborate with other entities from government, trade, other accountancy bodies etc etc. He stressed that it is very important for ACCA to differentiate itself so as to give a reason for its members to continue renewal of their membership.

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ACCA Conference 2010 – Tim Hird, Robert Half International

Dear friends,

Tim Hird presented his findings of a joint ACCA/Robert Half research entitled “Talent and Skills in Finance & Accounting Survey 2010 – Uncovering the Challenges”.

May I highlight some of his main points:-

Skills that are lacking in finance & accounts related staff are:-
a) management and leadership skills;
b) interpersonal skills / ability to work within a team and;
c) communications skills.

For employers, the top three retention strategies for staff are:-
a) improve salary package;
b) offer promotion or better career development and;
c) offer flexible hours / work from home.

I understand that the full report will be released by end of month.

Burger King vs Sinar Mas/Golden Agri over green issues

In today’s Sunday Times, I read that Burger King cancelled its contract to buy palm oil from Sinar Mas Agro Resources and Technology (SMART). This is said to be a move to protest over Sinar Mas not adopting sustainable farming practices and destroying rainforests in generating the palm oil.

This is a timely reminder of the importance of “Green Reporting”/sustaintability reporting and SGX’s recent issuance of guidelines (ie. non manadatory) on disclosure of social and environmental aspects of business.

Boards and management of companies are slowly and surely being made accountable to all stakeholders. Many years ago, they were said to be only responsible to shareholders for financial results. Now given emphasis on sustainable reporting, management are now being queried on how they achieve those results and the impact they have on the communities within which they operate in.

While I personally hope for such information to be made available on a statutory basis, I am however happy that SGX has taken the first move to “encourage” such reporting.

Bursa Malaysia is ahead of SGX when it legislated (ie. by law) that such reports be made compulsory back in 2007!!! According to ACCA survey as reported by Darryl Wee, CEO of ACCA Singapore, 49 companies in Malaysia generated sustainability reports in eight years. In comparison, Singapore lagged behind with only 21 companies.

P/S – SMART operates all palm oil plantations for Golden Agri Resources, a company listed in Singapore Exchange.

Biggest GST fraud in Singapore

$5,695,823.65 being the tax undercharged.
Then multiply that amount by 3 to arrive at $17,087,470.95 penalty payable.
In return for that “contribution”, the person responsible gets 54 months of free food and free lodging in prison.

Who gets such “honours”?
The man is none other, Mr Mahesh Sukhram Daswani.
He was in the business of trading mobile phones. He subsequently found it more lucrative to “manage” (ie. forge) his business records very aggressively.

First;y, he under reported his sales ie. collected output GST from his customers and decided to keep a lot for himself.
Secondly, he kept himself busy with creating detailed but “fictitious” purchases. He probably used photoshop (just kidding) to digitally alter zero-rated suppliers’ invoices to standard-rated. He then directed his staff to include those invoices in the quarterly claims.
Thirdly, he had to go create export documents to show that the mobile phones had been exported. Export sales, remember is zero-rated. I guess he was trying to show how he was able to dispose off millions of dollars of phone purchased.

The trickeries of Mahesh are not new but definitely not sustainable.

1. IRAS would definitely be paying attention to who have been issued millions of dollars of refund cheques. A request for audit of the respective taxpayers’ books would be good practice.
2. In the press release, it was specifically highlighted that IRAS has used a lot of technologies to nab Mr Mahesh. Phrases such as “advanced computer forensics techniques”, “computerised analysis programmes” and “specialised computer forensic tools” were deliberately informed to public. Perhaps IRAS colleagues have exchanged notes with their colleagues in Commercial Affairs Department.

The moral of the story (as always) – Please don’t try to muck around with your GST returns.

Company director jailed for GST fraud

What happened?
Tang Ee Boon (“Tang”), 32, the managing director of V-Teb Services Pte Ltd (“V-Teb”) was convicted of GST fraud amounting to $327,837.49 and was sentenced to 12 months’ jail. Tang was brought to court for 21 charges of making inflated and false claims of GST refunds for the period 1 Jan 2004 to 30 Jun 2007.

Rule
GST-registered businesses can offset the GST they pay on their purchases (input tax) against the GST they collect from sales (output tax), and pay the net difference to IRAS. If a business incurs more GST on purchases (input tax) than it collects from sales (output tax), it can claim the difference as GST refund from IRAS.

What went wrong for Tang’s ploy?
V-Teb provides cleaning services locally. By nature of his business, the company is not expected to claim GST refunds.

However, IRAS’ tax auditors noted a pattern of submitting increasing amounts of GST refund claims in the GST returns on a frequent basis. IRAS actually verifies the value of V-Teb’s taxable purchases with the alleged suppliers.

What did Tang get for his mischiefs?

Tang pleaded guilty to a total of 14 charges of evading GST,

  • comprising three charges of understating output tax,
  • eight charges of overstating input tax, and;
  • three charges of making false entries in V-Teb’s GST returns.

In addition to the jail term, the court also ordered Tang to pay a penalty of $983,512.47, which is three times the amount of GST undercharged.

Source – http://www.iras.gov.sg – Edgar basically paraphrase/paragrapg the original article.

After ACCA and CPA, how to get CoC?

It was the first initiative announced by ACRA in April 2010. It is the introduction of the colour-coded compliance rating and issuance of the Certificate of Compliance.

How to get the Certificate of Compliance?
First get the GREEN tick. Green tick will be given only when a company complies with ALL of the following requirements as enunciated in the Companies Act, Cap.50 ie.

1. Hold its AGM once in every calendar year and not more than 15 months
after the last preceding AGM (section 175). For a new company, the period is 18 months after date of incorporation.

2. Provide the members/shareholders with the financial statements that is not more than 6 months old at the date of the meeting. For a public listed company the financial statements must not be more than 4 months old at the date of the meeting.

3. File its AR within 1 month from the date of the AGM (section 197).

Once your company gets the GREEN tick, you pay $5 for a copy of Certificate of Compliance. Failing to comply, you will get the RED cross. All the GREEN ticks and RED crosses will be displayed next to your business entities’ name for all to see in the free Directory of Business Entities.

What can I do with the Certificate of Compliance?
1. Show to banker to demonstrate that your company is behaving and ask for a discount on the interest costs.

2. Attached it to your resume as you present yourself to the next prospective employer as the key person in keeping the company neat and tidy.

3. Attached it to your performance appraisal as you discuss for a bonus.

4. Show to auditor. Try asking discount on ground that ACRA is certifying compliance already. No audit work is necessary there.

5. The auditors too can use the CoC to check on their prospects first before accepting appointment.

Good morning to you. Cheers

FASB and IASB to delay their marriage?

view from an office in Jakarta

Yes, there will be a delay of 6 months from the original date of June 30, 2011.

This is despite the fact that their family members from the G-20 group of industrial and emerging countries have been pushing them to stick to the original date since FASB and IASB announced their engagement in 2006.

So why the delay?

  1. Firstly, FASB cannot keep up the pace preparing for their marriage.

To meet the deadline, FASB and IASB would have to release about 10 proposals in the next two months and rushing through the due process of public comment, blah blah blah, reconsideration by the respective board and adoption.

2. Both FASB and IASB want their marriage only after aligning major areas of the accounting rules, such as revenue recognition, leases, financial instrument accounting and financial statement presentation.

3. FASB is 38 years old now but it has never worked so hard before in its life to get ready for the marriage. FASB has never released more than three or four proposals at a time for public comment.

4. FASB and IASB’s preparation were distracted by the financial crisis in 2008 and 2009. Both were forced to activate more resources to make changes to accounting rules related to the financial crisis. FASB dedicated one third of its 60 professional staff members during the crisis. IASB has a slightly smaller staff than the FASB.