The House of Representatives’ Committee on Finance held a public hearing on the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (Amendment) Bill on Wednesday, parts of which several professional bodies described as injurious to the regulation of accounting and tax professionals in the country.
The legislation is titled ‘A bill for an Act to amend the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria Act 1965, CAP. 111 LFN, 2004 is to address emerging trends in the Nigerian economic environment and for related matters (HB 1178).’
Major stakeholders in the accounting profession and finance sector criticised some clauses in the bill at the hearing, especially Clauses 21 and 28, which seek to define tax practitioners as accountants and confer the power of regulating tax practice in the country on ICAN.
The Legal Adviser, Chartered Institute of Taxation of Nigeria, Chukwuemeka Eze, said although the body supported the amendment of the ICAN Act, it had reservations about the definition of tax practitioners as accountants and the additional powers to be granted ICAN.
Eze said empowering another body to regulate tax practice in the country would be an aberration.
He added that with Clause 28 proposing that the council of the ICAN would be made up of 30 accountants, it showed that ICAN would be regulating both accounting and tax practitioners in the country.
According to him, if the National Assembly goes ahead to pass the bill, the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, which is the second regulatory body for accounting practice in Nigeria, would also want to regulate the practice of taxation in the country.
Eze disclosed that the CITN had dragged ICAN before a court over issues bordering on regulations, with the Supreme Court set to deliver judgment on the matter any moment from now.
He, therefore, urged the House to step down consideration of Clauses 21 and 28 of the bill.
The Chairman, Board of Trustees, Association of Forensic Accounting Researchers, Prof. Mohammed Mainoma, said, “Since we have bodies pursuing this line of argument, they should be allowed to do that.
“The two sections should not be considered as they are injurious to the profession. A professional should have freedom to play within his field of expertise.”
The Chief Executive Officer, Association of National Accountants of Nigeria, Dr Nurudeen Abdullahi, said the body was opposed to Clause 27 of the bill which provides that ‘the principal Act is amended by inserting immediately after the new Section 21, a new Section 22 that ‘this Act supersedes the provisions of any other Act, which purports to diminish, undermine, subjugate or otherwise superintend over the provisions of this Act.’”
Abdullahi noted that ANAN and ICAN are the two professional accountancy bodies recognised by law.
He warned that the proposed amendment, if passed into law, would be inimical, not only to ANAN but also to any other professional body, including those yet to be established that might be statutorily recognised