Happy year of the ox. I hope you were able to enjoy some festivities in a socially distanced manner. While it was a shame we couldn’t celebrate as we typically do, the loosening of social distancing restrictions since is sorely welcomed. With the vaccination drive also beginning this month, we can but hope that this was the last wave of the virus, and there will be no more stringent social distancing restrictions in the future. However it is important to remember that the pandemic isn’t over yet. It is up to all of us to maintain good personal hygiene, care for ourselves and others, remain vigilant and stay healthy.
While we celebrated a restricted Chinese New Year, our counterparts in the Greater Bay Area (GBA) were able to come together to enjoy the festivities. I would have liked to join the Guangzhou Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ celebration event, unfortunately travel was not feasible. Instead I filmed a special video message for them. I look forward to the time when we can easily travel around the GBA again, and work closely with our counterparts there on further developing the area as one of the world’s leading economic regions.
The GBA was mentioned in the Financial Secretary Paul Chan’s budget on 24 February. The GBA is a unique opportunity for Hong Kong to contribute our specialist experience and knowledge, including that of our members, to the continuing development and future prosperity of our country. The budget had to balance supporting the economy and relieving individuals’ burdens during the pandemic against the strained government’s finances. With the hope that we are now riding out the storm, the financial secretary focused on a number of areas the Institute had recommended in its own budget submission including job creation and career transition assistance, and maintaining Hong Kong’s status as an international commercial centre. I took part in the Institute’s budget commentary forum with the media afterwards, and shared our views about the budget. You can read more about them in this month’s thought leadership article here.
Early in February, I took part in a “meet the media” session organized by the Institute. I discussed a wide range of topics including: the role of Hong Kong accountants in the GBA; the upcoming consultation on the one member, one vote election of the President and Vice-Presidents, and our hope that members will contribute their views to the consultation; the new task forces to investigate issues of concern in the profession around long working hours and digitalization; handling legal issues for accountants such as right to check vehicle registrations and anti-money laundering compliance issues; and implementing the new Qualification Programme examinations.
This month we set up the second of the new task forces investigating specific issues. The Task Force on the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) Assessment on HKICPA, which I chair, will review and address the findings made by the FRC from their oversight review of the HKICPA performance of specific functions of the Institute. The task force will oversee the implementations of new policies and procedures addressing the recommendations, and liaise with the FRC about future reviews.
Finally, the Council held its annual strategy day in February, discussing how we are going to work diligently for our members, and work across the 10 focus areas the Leadership Team set out in our “First Letter to Members.” We are confident that we will end the year having made considerable progress in enhancing the Institute to better serve members. The Leadership Team will keep members informed throughout the year.
“We are confident that we will end the year having made considerable progress in enhancing the Institute to better serve members.”