ABOUT 800 auditors have emigrated in the past year for various reasons as the profession suffers a severe brain drain, the incoming president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe
(ICAZ), Eric Bloch, has said.
“The emigration of the skilled workforce in the accounting profession is appalling and a major constraint upon the economy. There is need to intensify training and enhance professional education,” said Bloch.
“About 60% of the 1 400 members of ICAZ have left the counry for various reasons. The profession has lost irreparable skills to the brain drain due to the unfavourable operating environment,” Bloch said.
The economist said the brain drain was so serious that filling the gap in the foreseeable future would be difficult as only about 50 members qualify to join the profession each year.
ICAZ is currently training 1 100 students.
“We hope to increase the number of qualifying auditors each year to about a 100 but not at the expense of standards as set out in the statutes,” he said.
Bloch said problems facing the profession included negative perception, which has led to scepticism on auditors, especially after the collapse of WorldCom and Enron and the turbulence that rocked the local financial sector after the monetary policy announcement on December 18 last year.
The collapse of Enron, and the conviction of its former auditor Arthur Andersen for obstruction of justice, allegations of massive fraud at global telecom giant WorldCom and the turmoil that hit the local financial sector have exacerbated the scepticism towards auditors, according to Bloch.
Out of the 41 local banking institutions, five are under curatorship, two under liquidation and three under the Troubled Bank Fund.
But Bloch said inadequacies of “one or two accounting professionals should not be taken as the character of the whole profession”.
Bloch emphasised the need for chartered accountants to interact with various arms of government more vigorously.
“There is need to continue to work with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the ZimbabweInvestment Centre, par-liament and variousgovernment ministriesand bodies in order to contribute to economic recovery and to greater compliance by all economic sectors with principles of good governance,” Bloch said.
Bloch was speaking at an event marking his appointment as new ICAZ president.