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Critical role

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For economic growth, Barbados needs accountants, president of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Barbados (ICAB) Lydia McCollin asserted on Friday.

She said the over 1,000-member strong association was committed to doing what it can to ensure good corporate governance, public financial management and reform of state enterprises, in order to help achieve some economic goals.

“So to sum this up in one phrase, for its economic growth, Barbados needs accountants,” declared McCollin as she addressed the sizably attended ICAB annual conference at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre titles Under Construction – Building Blocks to Recovery. In her speech she likened the rebuilding of the economy to the construction of a building.

And she congratulated the Mottley administration for coming up with a homegrown plan, which she said has started to bear fruit.

But she quickly pointed out that while Barbados has met all of its targets under the International Monetary Fund supported Barbados Economic Recovery and Transformation programme there was “much more work to be done”.

From left, ICAB President Lydia McCollin, Barbados’ High Commissioner to Canada Reginald Farley and Minister in the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Marsha Caddle during today’s conference.

She called on the accountants to reflect on what role they could play as individuals and as an association in helping to rebuild the economy.

She said: “The accounting profession has a critical role in ensuring two fundamental blocks.

“One, transparency and accountability in financial management, and two, trust and [reliable] information for sound decision-making.”

The accounting professional warned that if existing and potential investors did not receive timely, reliable and trusted information, the investments needed to stimulate economic growth could be put at risk.

She said: “It is therefore vital that all accountants, whether in practice, in business or in the public sector, continue to lead the charge in the production of timely and reliable financial information and financial statements.”

McCollin said she was pleased with strict guidelines set out in the new Public Financial Management Act regarding submission of internal and year-end financial reports for state entities.

Pointing to ICAB’s “active participation” in the rebuilding of the Barbados economy through its membership of the Barbados Private Sector Association, McCollin said the association met with the Ministry of Finance recently “to discuss how ICAB can contribute and lead” on some of the initiatives to build corporate governance.

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Since that meeting, a proposal outlining the approach and activities to achieve the corporate governance objectives has been developed and was before the ICAB’s council for approval, she said.

Besides the ICAB Public Sector Committee, ICAB members in the public sector were serving on “other committees for taxation, education and student services, continual professional development and admissions”, she added.

Minister of Economic Affairs and Investment Marsha Caddle told the massive gathering that the economy was constantly under construction and required partnerships and “all hands on deck” for growth to take place.

She thanked the ICAB for its role so far in the economic recovery process, describing the ongoing fiscal adjustment as one of the most shared in the world.

But Caddle said while the adjustment measures were necessary to put the economy back on a sustainable path, Barbados could not adjust its way out of an economic crisis but “grow its way out”.

“This is where the opportunities for all Barbadians can be found,” she said.

It was for that reason Government had turned its attention to transformation “in every sphere of what we do”, the Minister said, and had developed a strategy to spur the growth needed.

Cuddle said: “And yes, we do require the specific skills and competencies that are represented by all of you in this room.”

She told the accounting and finance professionals that Government had identified seven main areas to encourage growth – reinvestment in education, skills and public health; reinvigorating key sectors such as tourism; reinvesting in resilient infrastructure; reinventing Government; resetting fiscal policies; reforming the financial system; and reengaging with the Caribbean Community and the rest of the world.

She said Government was also working diligently in making it easier for business to be conducted in Barbados so that the foreign exchange income capacity of the country could expand, decent jobs created and firm commitments of start and finish dates for development projects could be clear.

The economics affairs Minister said: “The only way we are going to get real growth and investment and opportunities for people is if we get specific about our partnerships and what they are meant to generate.”

Caddle also challenged the accountants to “be a bit more intentional about what we are able to do”. marlonmadden@barbadostoday.bb

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