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Senate moves to enhance ICAN’s powers, professional integrity

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Senate has started legislative process to strengthen the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, ICAN, expand its structure, and enhance regulatory powers and professional integrity within the accountancy profession as in other jurisdictions of the world and global best practice.

To this effect, the Red Chamber on Wednesday passed a bill for an act to amend the ICAN Act Cap 15, 1965 and for related matters, 2023 for second reading during plenary.

Leading debate on the bill, its sponsor, Senator Solomon Adeola (APC Ogun West), informed that the piece of legislation was read for the first time on Thursday, November 16, 2023.

He said the ICAN Act, which came into effect on September 1, 1965 empowered the Institute to set standards and regulate the practice of accountancy in Nigeria.

“In line with the dynamics of the environment, developments in the economy and changing needs of chartered accountants over the years, it has become imperative to amend certain provisions of this Act as well as insert new provisions to bring the Act up to current realities and ensure that ICAN remains adaptive, forward-thinking, and attuned to the needs of our nation,” the lawmaker stressed.

Senator Adeola, who is the chairman, Senate Committee on Appropriations, disclosed that a total of 26 amendments/insertions are contained in the proposed amendment of the Act affecting its sections and subsections as well as the Schedules.

According to him, “there is a need to situate accounting practice to encompass developments since 1965 and to bring the practice to what obtains in other jurisdictions, hence the need to amend Section 1,14, 19 and inserting a new section 15, all of which deals with issues of accounting practice and all areas that a chartered accountant is entitled to practice under the Act.”

While pointing out that corporate governance of modern professional accountancy organizations has evolved, he further stressed the need to amend parts of Sections 2, 3 and 6 and inserting new Sections 24 to 26.

“For instance, Section 3 of the Act is proposed for amendment because the Council of ICAN started off with a twenty-member structure in 1965 when membership was just 250. The number was increased to twenty-five subsequently in accordance with the provisions of the Act.

“With membership strength of over 53,000 today, the need to increase the membership of the Council to 36 has become compelling.

“Additionally, this amendment aims to strengthen ICAN’s collaboration with other professional bodies and regulatory authorities, both at home and abroad. Such collaborations will foster synergy, knowledge exchange, and harmonization of standards, guaranteeing that Nigerian chartered accountants remain at par with global best practices and their global counterparts,” he said.

Senator Adeola, who emphasized the need to enhance the capacity of the Institute to carry out its mandate in the area of regulation and compliance, added that this has necessitated the need to amend sections 7, 8,11,12, 16, 18, 20 and 21.

“A glaring example for amendment is Section 18(5). In the 59 years old Act, a proven infraction on summary conviction of any of the offenses attracts a paltry N100 fine while a conviction on indictment attracts only a fine of N1,000. You will agree with me that these sanctions for offenses that could lead to loss of millions or billions of naira, is not a deterrent to malpractices,” he informed.

In his remarks, the Senate President, Senator Godswill Akpabio commended the sponsor of the bill, noting that about 50,000 Nigerians are seeking to be members of the Institute.

He later referred the bill to the Committee on Establishment for further legislative process and report back within three weeks.

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