10.11.15 ACCA Seminar - Ministry of Environment and

Minister’s Speech for the ACCA-MIPA-CIMA Conference
15 November 2010
Mr Chairman
Ladies and Gentlemen
I am pleased to be in your midst this morning for the opening of this important
conference on “Accountants as strategic business partners and contributors to economic
development”. This theme in itself bears testimony of the important role that
accountants and auditors are called upon to play in shaping the future of our country. By
teaming themselves up to create a learning platform for top caliber professionals ACCA
Mauritius, MIPA and CIMA are raising to the challenges facing our profession in a
globalised world. In fact, to-day capital markets are global and world economies are
interdependent. This means that accounting and auditing need continuous
strengthening as the business environment is becoming more and more sophisticated.
Our profession has evolved in such a way that to-day accountants provide strategic
direction and strategic solutions to boards and to governing bodies aiming to ensure
that risks are managed appropriately and resources are used responsibly. We are called
upon to give confidence to investors and we all know that Mauritius relies on Foreign
Direct Investment to keep pace with the actual development trend. I personally believe
that more dialogue is needed between policy makers, the accounting profession and
other financial industries to consider how to work together and effectively on a global
The adapt or perish motto is more than ever relevant to our profession since
accountants, auditors as well as their clients, have to deal with new issues like on-line
financial transactions, corporate citizenship and sustainable development. At a time
when best practices constitute the order of the day and when communication, through
media, is invading our everyday life, you will be more and more in the public eye.
Following the various recent financial scandals in America and France much blame has
been laid at the door of the accountancy profession. However, financial reporting has
changed radically over the last two decades. We should therefore continue to adopt
best practices and ensure that accountants follow a code of ethics, the best accounting
and auditing standards so as to improve the current and future business and economic
As Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development, I am also interested in the
way professional accountants influence organizations to integrate sustainability in their
objectives. As the world economy struggles with the economic downturn, we in
Mauritius need to focus our efforts on making the best use of the resources we have.
Environmental protection and sustainable development are not only my Ministry’s
mandate, it concerns people from different walks of life from industries, hotels, SMEs,
schools to each and every individual of this country and accountants are no exception.
We all have to play our part in achieving sustainable development.
I am fully convinced that you can make a difference and contribute to environmental
protection and help the country in its sustainable development goal. The vision for
“Maurice Ile Durable” is dear to our Prime Minister and should be so for each of us.
Although the accounting sector itself might be considered a relatively low-impact sector
in terms of direct environmental and social impacts, it is the accountant's involvement in
the twin issues of organisational decision-making and external reporting that imposes on
the accounting profession the responsibility for understanding, absorbing and
articulating the implications of the sustainable development debate.
Allow me to share with you some ideas on ways in which you can bring in your
contribution to our common sustainability goal. Your direct contribution can be to join
the continual effort to prevent pollution by reducing the use of energy, water and
material resources; by minimising waste from your offices and going for recycling of
waste whenever possible. You can play an important role through sustainable
procurement of goods and services and by investing in sustainable infrastructure.
We should aim at expanding the boundaries of accounting by pondering over and
implementing the following as soon as possible:
(i) environmental financial accounting (for external reporting to financial stakeholders)
(ii) environmental management accounting (for internal decision-making and reporting
(iii) sustainability accounting (accounting for the social, economic and environmental
aspects of decision-making)
The accounting profession should become involved in the development of inventories
for bio-diversity (accounting for stocks of flora and fauna) and our natural capital.
Accountants generally need to become more aware of the impact that social and
environmental issues can have on their risk assessment exercises - this awareness gap
needs to be dealt with through the educational and continuing professional
development processes.
The accounting profession - which has been centrally involved in the development of
contemporary attitudes towards corporate governance - should seek to understand and
incorporate social, environmental and sustainability related issues into national codes of
corporate governance.
The accounting profession generally is well-placed to commission research to explore
the impacts of environmental taxation regimes (e.g. emissions trading systems in the
context of climate change). Accountants have a role to play in developing a more
integrated form of reporting - in which key environmental, social and sustainability
indicators are presented to shareholders and other stakeholders alike within the
statutory annual report and accounts package.
The education and training regimes of prospective accountants should be modernised to
reflect the importance of social, environmental and sustainable development related
issues. It would be best if these issues were fully integrated into the normal accounting,
auditing and taxation syllabi in much the same way as IT issues are now treated. This
recommendation applies as much to university programmes as to the professional
syllabi of the accounting bodies.
The continuing professional development programmes, run for accountants by their
professional bodies, should also reflect the growing strategic importance of social,
environmental and sustainable development related issues.
It may take some time to achieve all of these, but I hope that these ideas can stimulate
and form a central part of a future debate within the profession.
With these remarks I thank you for your attention and I declare open the conference on
“Accountants as strategic business partners and contributors to economic