آموزش حسابداری، آموزش و مهارت در کشورهای مشترک المنافع کارائیب: یکپارچه سازی و یا بین المللی سازی؟
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Accounting Forum, Volume 30, Issue 3, September 2006, Pages 285–313
In light of the January 2006 inauguration of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), regional accountants now face the challenge of reshaping the system of professional education and training inherited from the UK-based ACCA at independence or transferred to the Caribbean economies by the American-based CPA and the Canadian-based CGA after independence, in order to better serve the socio-economic needs of Caribbean economies. This paper therefore examines the way forward for the professional education and training in accountancy in the context of the now independent post-colonial developing economies of the Caribbean. Given the structural, economic and social deficiencies deriving from their colonial history, these countries need to move away from the externally derived model of accounting education and its legacy of inappropriate content, methodology and pedagogy. Available evidence suggests that the integration of the accountancy profession could aid and accelerate the successful operation of the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. In fact, such evidence suggests that the integration of the accounting profession represents the preference of the people of the Commonwealth Caribbean. In addition the evidence suggests that the integration of the profession could contribute significantly to the projection of a Caribbean identity, to economic development and could ultimately make a major contribution to the survival of the Commonwealth Caribbean economies in the global economic system.
Professions are products of their own environments (Burnett, 1990). It is the prevailing circumstances in any society that give rise to the emergence and the development of professions (including Accounting) in a particular society (Bakre, 2001). This suggests that while the accounting systems established by the colonial administrators were developed mainly to respond positively to the colonial economies prevailing during that period, the appropriateness of such accounting systems to the post-independence economies of the formerly colonised countries becomes contestable (Briston, 1990 and Perera, 1989; Wallace & Williams, 1994). This is because different socio-economic and political developments have come into existence in most post-colonial countries since their independence (Wallace & Williams, 1994). As Ndubizu (1994) argues, “where different socio-economic and political environments exist, different accounting systems are required to cope with the peculiar socio-economic and political challenges posed in different societies”. These views suggest that accounting ought to change if the environments it served have changed. In the specific case of the formerly colonised Commonwealth Caribbean socio-economies, while the medical and legal education and professions, inherited from the British colonial administrators, have changed as a result of the changes in administration and environment, similar changes have not taken place in the economic-driven profession of accountancy (Miller, 1989). In other words, the accountancy training, education and the professions instituted by the colonial administrators still continue to be the medium of surveillance in the Commonwealth Caribbean economic environments after many years of their respective independence (see also Bakre, 2005 and Bakre, 2006; Chaderton & Taylor, 1993). Moreover, education and training in the medical and law professions in the post-independent Commonwealth Caribbean societies have had a significant and positive impact on the health and legal policies of the Commonwealth Caribbean societies. This is not the case with respect to the accountancy profession, as the voices of the accountants in the Commonwealth Caribbean have not been heard in most of the economic policies of most Commonwealth Caribbean governments, particularly in Jamaica (Jackson, 1990) and Trinidad and Tobago (Ramlogan, 1985). Available evidence points out that the present accounting education, training and technology either inherited from the British professional bodies at independence or transferred to the Commonwealth Caribbean societies by some transnational accounting firms and other global professional bodies after independence,1 did not allow for Commonwealth Caribbean accountants to understand their own particular environments (Ramlogan, 1985). Yet this understanding is a necessity if Caribbean accountants are to contribute positively to the building of modern Commonwealth Caribbean societies (Ali, 1998). We are quite aware of the argument from some critics that accounting is now driven by International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). While this position might not be totally dismissed, however, the adoption of the so called IFRS continues to face a serious ‘Atlantic divide’ paradoxically between the developed capitalist economies that jointly put IFRS in place, because each of these powers continues to lobby for its own domestic standards to be adopted as what they claim to be ‘international standards’ (see The Accountant, 2000).2 In the specific case of developing economies, IFRS has failed to consider the requirements of the economic environments of developing economies where the International Accounting Standard Committee (IASC) also expects IFRS to be adopted or enforced (see Wallace & Williams, 1994). In fact, due to the continued awareness of the inappropriateness of the IFRS to the economic problems of developing countries, IFRS has now been viewed in many developing economies as an attempt by developed capitalist economies to hamper the economic growth and development of their fragile economies (Susela, 1999). The above awareness has made many accounting commentators from developing economies to argue that: “The International Accounting Standards Committee is a political body; its standards are those appropriate for industrial countries with a large private sector and a well-developed capital market. The main users of accounting reports in such countries are the shareholders, analysts, bankers and other businesses. Accounting reporting practices and standards are quite rightly designed to provide these users with the information they require” (Samuels & Oliga, 1982, p. 81). This global and regional awareness has attracted strong criticisms from many Commonwealth Caribbean accountancy commentators in recent times (see for example, Bakre, 2001, 2004, Bakre, 2005 and Bakre, 2006; Chaderton & Taylor, 1993; ICAC Annual Report, 1998, 2000; MacDonald, 1990, Mendes, 1985, Mendes, 1988, Mendes, 1990, Preston, 1980, Preston, 1990, Ramlogan, 1985 and Selby, 1987). In the light of these criticisms from many developing world accounting commentators, particularly those commentators cited above, various efforts have been made at both the local and regional levels to alter the status quo in order to evolve an indigenous accounting capacity of its own at the national level in Jamaica (see Bakre, 2005 and Bakre, 2006), in Trinidad and Tobago (see Annisette, 2000) and at the regional level (see Bakre, 2001). However, these efforts continued to be challenged and hence have continuously failed to yield the desired results (see Bakre, 2005 and Bakre, 2006). Not surprisingly, these challenges are mainly from the few, but powerful and influential minority members3 of the various chartered institutes in the Commonwealth Caribbean, whose moral reasoning is highly influenced by colonial ideologies that have led them to continue to see the training and education of the accountancy profession through British eyes only (see Bakre, 2004). This minority group also shares the majority view that localisation or regionalisation could be the best way to achieve independent and relevant accounting education, training and the profession in the Commonwealth Caribbean. However, the group subscribes to these views only insofar as such localisation or regionalisation would be negotiated with certain colonial or global professional bodies (see Bakre, 2001). In the above context, some Commonwealth Caribbean accounting commentators have suggested that continuous failure on the part of the accounting communities of the Commonwealth Caribbean to protect the public interest (the very purpose for which they claim to be in existence), may eventually lead to a challenge of the legitimacy of their existence in the individual Commonwealth Caribbean country on the one hand, and in the entire Commonwealth Caribbean region on the other (see for example, Preston, 1990 and Selby, 1987). Such suggestions from accounting commentators have, more than ever before, become very important in light of the recent challenge from the Prime Minister of Jamaica (with reference to the establishment of the Caribbean Court of Justice) to the regional University, University of the West Indies (UWI) that it should: Lead in intellectual thought and discourse on issues of regional importance, and support practical activities that will promote closeness and integration of the Caribbean. The UWI should promote discussion on the issue and enable students and individuals to voice their opinion, in much the same way that the creation of the West Indies Federation was vigorously debated (Emphasis added, The Jamaican Sunday Herald, October 9, 2005, p. 10A). In response to this call and many others from the present and past regional leaders (Arthur, 2005, Arthur, 1999, Bird, 1994, Burnham, 1973, Patterson, 2003 and Williams, 1973), individual Caribbean scholars (Beckford, 1972 and Girvan, 1971; Hall, 1999, 2000), and Caribbean accounting commentators (Ali, 1998, Annisette, 1996 and Annisette, 2000; Bakre, 2001, 2004, Bakre, 2005 and Bakre, 2006; Chaderton & Taylor, 1993; Mendes, 1990 and Preston, 1990), this paper adds to the intellectual voices of the University of the West Indies on the specific case of the regional integration of the imperial accountancy education, training and the profession, either inherited by, or transferred to the Commonwealth Caribbean countries at or after independence by certain colonial or other global professional bodies. The remainder of this paper will be devoted to an attempt to illuminate the various complexities surrounding this important regional project. In order to accomplish this goal, the rest of the paper is divided into six sections. Section 2 examines capitalism and economic integration and their respective impacts on the integration of accountancy education, training and the profession in a society, as the ‘map’ and the ‘lens’ to better understand the complexities surrounding this investigation. Section 3 reviews some studies that have examined various cases of the inappropriateness and the ensuing criticisms of the colonial and other developed capitalist countries’ inherited and transferred accounting education and training in the economic environment of most developing countries, especially the Commonwealth. As the accountancy profession in the Commonwealth Caribbean does not exist in isolation from colonial and other global economic systems and influences, Section 4 also adopts the same frameworks to examine the deemed inappropriateness of the colonial and other global capitalist countries’ accounting technology inherited by or transferred to the Commonwealth Caribbean economies at independence, and the ensuing conflict of identity and criticisms from the Commonwealth Caribbean accounting commentators. As the integration of the profession in the Commonwealth Caribbean seems to be a popular move as against the minority favoured internationalisation, Section 5 continues the journey of the regionalisation option by further establishing a case in favour of integration of accountancy education, training and the profession in the Commonwealth Caribbean. Here, it is argued and demonstrated that, regardless of the elite opinion, integration is seen by the majority of the stakeholders in the Commonwealth Caribbean as the best way to enhance the practice of the profession, which could promote Commonwealth Caribbean economic unity, aid the successful operation of the Commonwealth Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME), project Commonwealth Caribbean identity and hence, ensure the survival of the Commonwealth Caribbean economies in the global economic system. Despite global and Caribbean regional criticisms of the status quo, the popular move to integrate the profession and the subsequent case established in favour of integration of the profession in the Commonwealth Caribbean, the powerful and influential minority members of the profession still seem not to see any viable alternative to the status quo. In this context, Section 6 examines recent evidence of the impact of colonial mores on the influential and powerful elites in the various Commonwealth Caribbean Chartered Institutes, in what seems to be their renewed determination to continue to defend the status quo. Section 7 concludes the paper in the form of a summary and discussion.
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
This paper has utilized the theoretical frameworks of capitalism and economic integration to examine the way forward for accountancy education, training and the profession, inherited or transferred to the Commonwealth Caribbean economies from the colonial and other global capitalist countries, particularly the UK-based ACCA. At independence, all the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean realised that accountancy education, training and the profession inherited from the ACCA might no longer be appropriate to their post-independence economic environments. As a result, at independence, all the countries of the Commonwealth Caribbean made the commitment to put in place accounting education, training and the professions that were expected to respond positively to their independence national economic problems, and as such serve the Caribbean public interest. However, from what followed in all the countries, immediately after the establishment of these professional bodies with the full support of the government and the resources of the society, it seems that these accountants have now chosen to continue to defend the status quo. Consequently, accountants and the accounting professions in the Commonwealth Caribbean may no longer be protecting the Caribbean public interest—the very purpose they claimed was the main objective of their formation and hence, existence. Further efforts to pull their resources together to form a regional professional body devoid of any foreign influence, in order to achieve this objective, seems to have also been high-jacked by a few powerful and influential individuals whose moral reasoning sees accountancy education, training and the profession through ‘British eyes’ only. The current situation within the profession seems to be favouring internationalisation more than regional integration. As an alternative, this paper has provided the popular evidence which advocates that the best way forward for the accountancy profession in the Commonwealth Caribbean is for the established Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean to immediately re-visit its original objective. This objective entails the development of accounting curricula and examinations relevant to the Caribbean economic environment. This could be achieved through collaboration with the University of the West Indies, the University of Technology or a separate school of accountancy established for that purpose as was earlier proposed by the panel of assessors set up by the ACCA/ICAC and the UWI, in 1989. Concerning the issue of financing, one would have expected the finances of the regional body to be resolved before even forming the regional body in 1988. In any case, it is not that the Caribbean together cannot finance the regional body; of course they can, if all of them had had the moral reasoning of choosing complete independence within the profession. After formal agreements at the national and regional levels, each territory could approach their respective governments for financial assistance or the ICAC could approach an external funding agency. After all, the Jamaican Institute (ICAJ) solicited financial assistance from the Inter American Development Bank to enable the ICAJ to educate Jamaican accountants and the business community about the significance of adopting the irrelevant International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS). If the Jamaican accountants could in the past solicit funds to perpetrate foreign standards at the expense of their local standards, how paradoxical is it that the same accountants now claim that they cannot solicit funds to establish their own profession. For example, in the case of the proposed Caribbean Court of Justice, the financing of the Court was also among the major points of contention for critics of the Court, who argued that, without secure financing, the Court would operate at the whim of the regional governments. In response to this criticism, Caribbean Community leaders in their annual summit in Georgetown, Guyana, on July 6, 2002, mandated the Caribbean Development Bank to raise US$ 100 million for a trust to finance the proposed CCJ. The Caribbean leaders based their decision on the fact that the CCJ is critical for the functioning of a single market and economy—which the community intended to fully implement by 2005 (see the Jamaican Observer, July 7, 2002, p. 3). However, if the Caribbean leaders strongly believe that the CCJ is critical for the single market and economy, it is also argued that financial reporting systems and standards relevant to the socio-political and economic environment of the Caribbean are, in fact, more critical to the successful operation and functioning of the single market and economy. If the regional governments believe that, while it is necessary for them to be involved in the regulation of the legal systems, self-regulation should be allowed in the accountancy profession, this might create some problems in the future. Self-regulation of accountancy has not worked in the UK; it has failed in the USA, particularly in the light of recent corporate failures (such as Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, etc.); therefore, why should we believe that it would work in the fragile developing Caribbean economies? If the Caribbean governments had left the legal profession in the hands of the Caribbean lawyers, the dream of the proposed CCJ would have been dashed prematurely. It is therefore high time the regional governments took a stand in the whole game of the regionalisation of accountancy in the Caribbean, which at the moment seems to be heading towards the rocks, due to the domination of the profession by the imperial accountants who have capitalist interests to protect, above all else. The powerful members of the ICAC, although in a minority, are disproportionately influential in continuing to successfully challenge any attempt to alter the status quo in accounting education, training and the profession in the Caribbean. They have chosen to continue to tilt the balance towards the international mobility of capital in which their personal capitalist interest seems protected. It is not enough for the British trained accountants in the Caribbean to continue to point accusing fingers at what they perceive to be the areas of weaknesses in the UWI MSc accountancy degree programme, which was jointly put in place by the ICAJ/ICAC and the UWI. The University of the West Indies belongs to the Caribbean people. This infrastructure/framework that is already there has been harnessed to successfully establish world class regional medical and legal professions and the current CSME. This framework could also be harnessed to properly create a model for educating and training accountants that could meet the socio-economic realities of the Caribbean region and at the same time gain the respect of the international business community regarding its standards, as is the case of the Singapore Management University (SMU). The colonial administrators established the UWI in 1948, specifically to find solutions to the socio-economic and political problems and to foster unity in the Caribbean. The UWI has succeeded in finding solutions to the health problems of the Caribbean, with the collaborative and untiring efforts of the regional governments, Caribbean doctors and health personnel. The UWI has partially succeeded and still continues to find permanent solutions to the legal problems of the Caribbean, particularly with the establishment and the February 2005 inauguration of the Caribbean Court of Justice. This has been achieved with the persistent efforts of the regional governments and of legal personnel in the Caribbean. The framework at UWI has recently succeeded in creating the Caribbean Single Market and Economy. This has also been achieved with the efforts of the regional governments and the business community. In this context, the regional governments and the accountants in the Caribbean owe a moral duty to the Caribbean people and business community to come together to put in place purely Caribbean education and examinations that are expected to find solutions to the peculiar nature of the Caribbean economic problems and at the same time embrace the universal principles of accounting and finance so as to gain international recognition for its standard and quality. Moral duty aside, the continued stance is myopic and detrimental. While it is understood that the Caribbean, being developing countries with particular characteristics that make them dependent and peripheral in the system of global capitalism, the argument is that the accounting profession in this relationship is still directed away from the needs of the Caribbean society. Accountancy training and education in the Commonwealth Caribbean has not had the benefit of deciding and organising the principles upon which this relationship would change and how the nature of this change would occur. This would perhaps be among the first set of objectives to consider in a regional accounting setting. The accountants in the Caribbean should not see themselves as living and operating in isolation from the Caribbean economic problems and unity, while the same accountants continue to harness the scarce Caribbean economic resources towards the mobility of some colonial and other global capital. It is by pooling their efforts and resources together, with some degree of national and regional commitment that they can call on the national and regional governments to render whatever assistance that may be required. A house divided against itself will never stand.