THE Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (Acra) may be empowered to conduct firm-level inspections of public-accounting firms and mete out sanctions as part of a review of the Accountants Act, Senior Minister of State for Law and Finance Indranee Rajah said on Tuesday at the Singapore Accountancy and Audit Convention 2017.
Unveiling plans for the review of the Act, Ms Indranee cited efforts to raise the bar for audit quality. Firm-level inspections of public accountants will move Singapore in line with the US, the UK and Australia, she said.
Additionally, she launched two initiatives aimed at helping to provide skills support to augment Singapore's accountancy sector.
First, Singaporeans who wish to join or move within the accounting industry can tap programmes under Workforce Singapore's Adapt and Grow initiative.
Under that programme, a Professional Conversion Programme is being developed to help experienced mid-career professionals transition to the accountancy sector. More details will be announced later this year.
Second, accountancy firms looking to transform their workplaces into progressive lean organisations can leverage the Sapphire initiative, which is developed by the Singapore National Employers Federation (SNEF) and the Singapore Accountancy Commission (SAC).
Companies embarking on this initiative could receive a 70 per cent subsidy that covers up to 100 hours of consultancy advice. With the subsidy, accountancy firms will pay a nett fee of S$3,210 (including GST or Goods and Service Tax).
At the convention, Ms Indranee also highlighted that accounting regulations in Singapore will have to evolve to meet the changing demands of the world. By itself, regulatory change is insufficient for Singapore to become a global accountancy hub. Instead, the industry must be prepared for a "technology revolution".
"As the use of technology in the workplace intensifies, firms must innovate and use more technology to offer higher-value, insight-driven services," she said.