ICPAC looks ahead into 2024

It is undisputable that the past few years have been unprecedentedly difficult and demanding for everybody; for the economy, businesses and households, as well as for our profession, accountancy and audit firms and obviously for ICPAC itself.

Apart from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, which is still lurking, the challenges to the economy from increased inflation and the ramifications of the war in Ukraine, plus the recent one in neighbouring Gaza (Israel), the abrupt change of the business landscape in the services sector due to the "de-Russification" of our economy on the one hand, and the imposition of sanctions and restrictive measures, on the other, we had been called to deal with a number of important issues concerning the domestic market and the society.

ICPAC devoted and still allocates a large proportion of its time and resources assisting the State in the latter’s development and growth activities, and in actions to further strengthen the regulatory compliance framework, making thus every possible effort to support the country’s good reputation and image and, of course, those of our professional sector.

Given these developments, we found ourselves caught amid an inescapable vicious circle with high inflationary trends, with expensive cost of money and energy, with increased prices for goods and services, with a reduction in the purchasing power of wages and with many open projects by the State relevant to our profession, for which, unfortunately, we do not seem to have a clear picture yet.

At the same time, as a country, we have the obligation to comply and focus on various Directives and initiatives emanating from the European Union, such as the green and circular economy, the management of environmental resources and long-term sustainable development.

All the above, coupled by social changes and the economic/fiscal capabilities of the State, advocate towards the revision of our longstanding living norms and habits, of the way we traditionally operate and perceive things, which lead to an inevitable adaptation to the new realities.

The same stand for us at ICPAC as well.

2024 finds us at the forefront of further strengthening our own infrastructure and means, so that we will be ready to serve to the best possible extent the goals of our Institute and of our members.

Hence, our core goals and priorities for this year, inter alia, include:

  1. our transition into new digital platforms and functionalities, aiming at simplifying and automating many of the current processes,
  2. the continuation of the resourcing of ICPAC's operational team, thus serving members, students and stakeholders more responsively,
  3. the better execution of ICPAC's roles both as a Professional Accountancy Organisation and as the competent authority for the institutional responsibilities entrusted to it,
  4. the submission of proposals, suggestions and solutions to the State, the Government and the House of Representatives for strengthening and improving the country's economy in general, as well as for the more effective and leaner operational environment for businesses and for our members,
  5. the enhancement of the cooperation with all productive stakeholders of the economy, institutional bodies and academic institutions, public and private sector, by undertaking new initiatives and actions, both in and outside Cyprus,
  6. the continuous training, development and support to our members, through educational activities, updates, publications and circulation of information material, as well as through specialised support arrangements for technical issues (help-lines),
  7. promoting and supporting the interests of our profession, its reputation, its credibility and prospects,
  8. improvement of ICPAC’s corporate governance framework by adopting best international practices,
  9. safeguarding the public interest and the reputation of the country as a reliable and attractive international business destination.

Particular emphasis is expected be placed this year on the following areas:

- Intensified and broader promotion of the accountancy profession, its role in the business scenery and the contribution that our members and their firms have in the economy. Sadly, we have been recently witnessing a tendency for sidelining ICPAC and targeting professional accountants, ignoring the fact that, ultimately, they are actually the necessary conduits between businesses and employees with the State, such as the tax authorities, social insurance services, vat, and various other governmental departments, and the banking institutions.

- The attraction of new students and trainees to the accountancy profession, an area of primary concern for ICPAC, as it touches upon the future of the profession. Significant work is already being done at schools and universities thereon, in cooperation with accountancy firms.

- The promotion of matters relating to small and medium companies and accountancy firms, something which is closely tied with the current EU Directives.

- The simplification of various processes and procedures, especially in the public sector, aiming at alleviating the administrative burden from the business and enhance efficiency and functionality in the execution of the many obligations of professional accountants.

- To highlight weaknesses and areas that need improvement and/or correction in the social, economic and state environment, by submitting proposals to the Government and wherever else deemed appropriate, while claiming the role and the voice that corresponds to our profession, with special reference to the following:

In addition to the above list, the main strategic objectives and planned activities for 2024 cover the following:

1) the preparation of a Cyprus-based financial reporting standard for Small and Medium Enterprises,

2) supporting and assisting in the implementation of the strategic planning for the long-term development of the economy ("Vision 2035"), prepared by the Cyprus Economy and Competitiveness Council,

3) the Directives and Regulations of the European Commission concerning our profession and the economy of the country in general, e.g. on tax, corporate, institutional, compliance and anti-money laundering issues,

4) the wider regulation and monitoring of related professional activities, as evidenced by the implementation of European Directives,

5) the EU Green Deal and issues related to the profession since the adoption of the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD),

6) in conjunction with the above, issues related to the United Nations Strategic Development Goals (17 SDGs), sustainable development and the ESG triptych in general,

7) the tightening of relations and coordination between ICPAC with other economic and social actors, both in and outside Cyprus, particularly with Accountancy Europe and IFAC,

8) strengthening its role as a competent supervisory authority,

9) the enrichment of educational activities towards its members, at the most competitive cost,

10) increasing ICPAC's extroversion and promoting the accountancy profession in secondary and tertiary education schools,

11) the safeguarding of the public interest through ICPAC’s Code of Ethics and the principles of transparency and objectivity.

Our commitment is to remain as a primary stakeholder for the economy. We do aspire to work closely with the business community and all other institutional bodies and the State. ICPAC continues to operate within the framework of cooperation, mutual respect and constructiveness, with objective and well-meant motives. Thus, we move forward into 2024, underscoring however that, when and where required, we will act with dynamism, determination and boldness to defend the interests of society, our members and our profession.

In relation to the wider politico-economic developments in the international space for 2024, our initial estimates indicate a rather demanding year, with many challenges and relative uncertainty. These concerns rest in the escalation of warfare activities in the Middle East, the trade hurdles encountered, the maritime hazards, the surging cost for goods transported via ships, and the unpredictable results in the forthcoming elections in the EU for the European Parliament, the US, Russia, India and other important actors. Cyprus being a small and open economy, is susceptible to influences from abroad. Moreover, there is still plenty of room for improvement in the domestic market and public processes, with the much-needed reforms still appearing to be a farfetched goal!

With the developments that revolve around us, the accountancy profession is changing gears, entering a new phase. The continuous improvement and upgrading of all of us, from whichever capacity we work, is a sine qua non.

Having in mind the above, as well as the wider challenges of the economy and the geopolitical landscape, ICPAC reiterates its commitment to the continuous advancement of the services provided to its members, to the growth of the Institute as an organisation, to the progress of the economy and to the service of the public interest in general.

Kyriakos Iordanou, General Manager of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Cyprus (ICPAC)

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