JOHANNESBURG – The Financial Matters Amendment Bill, which includes much-needed amendments to the audit legislation, was introduced to the National Assembly by the Minister of Finance last week as an ordinary bill in terms of Section 75 of the Constitution. 

This week National Treasury briefed members of the Standing Committee on Finance (SCoF) on the key amendments to the five acts included in the amendment bill, following a public consultation process which started last year.

Part of the draft bill relates to short-term amendments of the Auditing Profession Act 26 of 2005, aimed at strengthening the independence of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA), strengthening the independence of auditors, increasing the powers of the IRBA to improve its efficiency in its investigation and disciplinary processes, and to introduce deterrents to undesirable behaviour by auditors. These measures will contribute significantly to public protection.

The bill is now officially in the parliamentary process to enact legislation.

Bernard Agulhas, chief executive of IRBA said: “The IRBA is pleased with the support that the proposed amendments have received thus far. This was not unexpected, based on the huge reputational damage caused to a highly trusted profession by a few errant auditors.

“The regulator, together with the profession and other role players such as audit committees and others charged with governance, are working tirelessly on restoring confidence in the profession, and the proposed amendments will go a long way in rebuilding the public trust which, in turn, will stimulate investment.

“The amendments come at a critical time when attempts to regain confidence from the public and investors, and the prevention of further losses of hard-earned savings, can no longer be compromised.”

The comment period on the amendment bill is currently open and the draft bill is available on the National Treasury’s website.

SCoF has provided an opportunity for comment on the bill with a public hearing scheduled for Tuesday 12 February, as per the latest timetable. Interested parties should reply to the committee secretary by 8 February. 

Content supplied by the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors.