IRBA Newsletter Issue 49

Issue 49 | January - March 2020 2 FROM THE CEO’S DESK I ended my last message for 2019 with this: “My hope for 2020 is that we can stand together and make a real impact on the economy. I am confident that if we stand together, in the new year we can give the nation new hope that the profession can fulfil its role of holding business to account.” Of course, this related to ensuring that we work together to Restore Confidence in the profession. Little did we know that global events of pandemic proportions would require a similar reaction, but for different reasons. In the past few days, we have seen the nation unite for the greater good – with our medical staff, caregivers and shop attendants risking their lives to protect ours; and those to whom we look for leadership taking the lead. The audit and accounting professions have been no exception. Audit firms and professional accountancy bodies have reacted swiftly to respond to the need to protect the health and safety of their staff. They have put in place measures and appropriate technology to continue delivering the necessary services to protect the public and combine their efforts to provide the necessary support to government to navigate together through this crisis. Since the COVID-19 outbreak and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement of a State of National Disaster, government is now operating under the provisions of the National Disaster Act (Act 57 of 2002). The aim of the Act is: To provide for :- • an integrated and co-ordinated disaster management policy that focuses on preventing or reducing the risk of disasters, mitigating the severity of disasters, emergency preparedness, rapid and effective response to disasters and post-disaster recovery; • the establishment of national, provincial and municipal disaster management centres; • disaster management volunteers; and • matters incidental thereto. Organisations across the country, including audit and accounting firms and regulators, are implementing disaster management protocols in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. By Wednesday, 18 March 2020, we published our IRBA Safety Protocol, which provides staff guidance on what the IRBA expects of our employees in relation to the containment of community transmissions. Simultaneously, our Standards Department worked on guidance for auditors in light of COVID-19 impacts on audits and the preparation of audit opinions. This guidance, Implications of the COVID-19 Outbreak on Audits and Auditors, was issued on 20 March and 26 March 2020, respectively. It is in the form of a newsletter that contains the implications of COVID-19 on audit firms, audits and compliance with regulations. I have also reached out to all financial sector regulators to seek guidance on whether it may be necessary to issue different arrangements to meet corporate reporting deadlines. This would be to enable registered auditors and the companies they audit to put in place mitigation plans that could ensure that as many of them as possible can adhere to government’s call to contain the virus by practicing social distancing and staying home, except for essential movements. The situation is evolving all the time. To ensure that our health infrastructure is not suddenly overwhelmed, containment is an essential and necessary strategy at this time. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has been increasing and various ministries have been providing clarity on the containment measures for the country. It is the civic duty of every citizen to adhere to all temporary government regulations; and our registered auditors should be advising all with whom they interact to take appropriate steps to ensure the same level of compliance across all sectors of society. The IRBA prioritises the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees, registered auditors and all its stakeholders. During these challenging times, the IRBA also has a responsibility to ensure the continuity of its operations and essential functions, while we continue to deliver on our mandate. These are challenging times and the restrictions from government continue to change. We will update our safety protocol and offer relevant and appropriate guidance as well as share relevant information to ensure that we remain aligned to government’s approach to containment. Please refer to our dedicated webpage for further information and updates. President Ramaphosa said: “If we act together, if we act now and if we act decisively, we will overcome it.” Our profession has taken up the challenge; and the firms, accountancy bodies and regulator will continue to demonstrate our commitment to achieving government’s objectives and protecting the public. IRBA OPERATIONAL ARRANGEMENTS The IRBA has implemented measures and controls to address and manage the risks posed by the COVID-19 outbreak. National Lockdown Measures During the period that government has implemented a national lockdown, all staff will work from home. This should not affect our services toomuch as a number of measures have been implemented. For further information on these measures, please see the General News section on page 21. Also, the relevant contact details during this period, which are listed on page 21 too, are available on the header notice of our website as well. Bernard Peter Agulhas Chief Executive Officer