Official plays down accounting sector’s concerns

The Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Christopher Hui, on Wednesday played down concerns that the government is weakening Hong Kong’s professional accounting body by reassigning many of its regulatory powers.

The Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) is responsible for issuing practising certificates for accountants, and registering accounting firms and auditors of listed companies.

But on Tuesday, Hui announced in his official blog that these roles will be transferred to the Financial Reporting Council (FRC).

“This is an international global trend in terms of having an independent regulation of the accounting profession which is not really attached to the profession itself, so it is an international trend which is well-recognised,” Hui told reporters outside Legco.

Hui said the announcement was not “out of the blue”, adding that the authorities had met with a few relevant stakeholders, such as accounting organisations, to gauge their views on the relevant proposals, adding that it was an on-going process.

He said the next stage would be to present the proposals to a Legco panel to have the primary legislation scrutinised, and also for subsidiary legislation to be vetted next year.

“It’s not really a matter of weakening the power, but I would say that this will allow the HKICPA to focus on the long-term development of the profession, and on that – if you look at what the HKICPA has done for the profession over the past years – many of their achievements is well-noted, it’s something we also well recognise,” he said.

“But if you put that against the backdrop of the global international trend of having independent regulation of the accounting profession, that’s why we come up with this new proposal.”

In 2018, the government proposed amendments to the Financial Reporting Council Ordinance to transfer regulatory powers from the HKICPA to the FRC.