THE Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP), established under an ordinance in 1961, is a ‘prestigious’ regulatory body mandated with the task of regulating the accountancy profession. This includes awarding the qualification of chartered accountancy and overseeing membership.

The ICAP Council, which is responsible for formulating policies in the interest of the profession and the public, consists of 19 members of which 15 are elected by members (qualified CAs), and four are nominated by the government; the federal finance minister, chairpersons of the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) and the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), and the governor of the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP).

With so much professional expertise available, one wonders why it fails to take the ground reality into account while formulating policies. For instance, in 2023, there were about 10,000 fresh entrants and more than 1,700 individuals holding Certificate in Accounting and Finance (CAF) qualification after which they were supposed to start the mandatory articleship that lasts a good three-and-a-half years. However, owing to limited firms and their diminishing capacity to accommodate the interns, not many could start their professional training.

Moreover, the situation was made worse by a decision of the ICAP Council according to which a student cannot start the articleship after six months of clearing the CAF stage.

The unilateral ICAP decision indicates an alarming disconnect from the ground reality, and has caused frustration and anxiety among those having CAF quali-fication, but not having an opportunity to start their articleship for reasons that remian completely beyond their control.

It is imperative that the ICAP Council, including the four government officials, take notice of this bizarre situation and ensure fairplay with respect to its policies.

Furqan Ali
Peshawar

Published in Dawn, February 23rd, 2024

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