Friday, June 25, 2010

Gender Diversity on Boards

ACCA Pakistan Discussion Paper Gender Diversity on
Boards in Pakistan

As board gender diversity becomes a priority agenda item for
policymakers and business leaders internationally, the critical
examination of the business case for board gender diversity in
Pakistan merits consideration, states ACCA Pakistan discussion Paper
Gender Diversity on Boards in Pakistan. The discussion paper has been
conceived and commissioned by IFC.

Even though more women have entered Pakistan's paid workforce in the
last decade, from the small number of professional, qualified and
experienced women directors, it appears that there is a need for
greater understanding of the potential businesses case for gender
diversity on boards of publicly listed companies. The discussion
paper concludes that the value of mixed-group decision making for the
reputation, calculated risk-taking and possibly enhanced financial
performance of the business needs to be documented and advocated.
Business leaders who are already championing gender diversity on
boards within their organisations may be encouraged to assume an
ambassadorial role, promoting the benefits of gender diversity on
boards at public forums. The development and dissemination of the
profiles of women who have reached board level or the CEO position on
their own merit may also be useful for promoting the business case for
gender diversity on boards.

A conclusion of the discussion paper is that the largest companies of
Pakistan may take a lead by considering greater representation of
qualified, experienced and professionally competent women on boards.
This may compel other businesses (including family-owned ones) to
evaluate the benefits of having qualified and experienced women on
boards. As the discussion paper indicates a perception of a dearth of
appropriately qualified, skilled and experienced women directors; a
database of existing and prospective women directors could be
developed in Pakistan.

One of the conclusions of the discussion paper is that women's ascent
to board positions may be facilitated by organisational support and an
environment conducive to career progression. Organisations may like to
build support programmes and provide access to role models (men and
women), networks and mentors (men and women) to help women middle and
senior-level managers to overcome perceived obstacles and to succeed
in reaching board positions.

Women may consider joining professional networks and associations as
well as creating formal and informal networks that include men and
women. Board committees may also play a role in promoting gender
diversity on boards. For example, a nomination committee could
improve factoring-in of such diversity criteria to their selection and
nomination processes. Women are a largely untapped source of talent
for boards as non-executive and independent directors. In an
environment with a shortage of independent non-executive directors
with appropriate skills, the business need for tapping this source may
be explored.

'As policy makers and business leaders are internationally considering
a trend for more board diversity (including gender diversity), the
examination of the business case for board gender diversity in the
context of Pakistan merits consideration. The discussion paper by
presenting an overview of the current state of gender diversity on
boards in Pakistan aims to initiate a discussion on the future of
gender diversity on boards in Pakistan,' explained Dr Afra Sajjad,
Head of Education and Policy Development of ACCA Pakistan.

'ACCA was the first accountancy body to admit women to its membership,
in 1909. In terms of the demographic of ACCA women constitute 43% of
ACCA global membership with women accounting for 49 % of those taking
the most recent ACCA exams. The discussion paper by presenting a
business case for gender diversity based on the premises of fair
access and routes to progression endorses ACCA's core values of
opportunity, innovation, integrity and diversity', commented Arif
Masud Mirza, Head of ACCA Pakistan.

About ACCA Pakistan

ACCA Pakistan, a not-for-profit organisation incorporated under
Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984, is part of ACCA (the
Association of Chartered Certified Accountants), the largest and
fastest-growing global professional accountancy body, with more than
404,000 students and 140,000 members in 170 countries, whom ACCA
supports through a network of 83 staffed offices and centres around
the world.

Throughout its 106-year history, ACCA has provided opportunity to
people of talent and application, regardless of background, and has
succeeded in making the accountancy
profession accessible to those normally denied further or professional
education. ACCA supports any initiatives that contribute to equal
opportunity for all and that remove unnecessary barriers to those
seeking qualification as professional accountants.

In Pakistan, ACCA has provided opportunities for a large number of
young women to pursue a world-class career in accounting, finance,
business and management. It has worked with the Women's Chambers of
Commerce and the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Authority
(SMEDA) to facilitate access to finance for women entrepreneurs. The
ACCA Pakistan discussion paper Access to Finance for Female
Entrepreneurs advocates creation of an enabling environment for
nurturing women's enterprise. This can be done by enhancing access to
finance for women entrepreneurs, by developing favourable policies, by
capacity building and by bridging the trust gap between women
entrepreneurs and finance providers.


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Husnain Rasheed

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pakistan accountants are more optimistic - despite concerns, global economic conditions survey shows

Pakistan accountants are more optimistic -
despite concerns, global economic conditions survey shows.

The threat posed by levels of sovereign debt and rising inflation to
the global economic recovery has been highlighted in the world's
largest regular survey of professional accountants.

The Global Economic Conditions Survey for the second quarter of 2010
by ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) shows
that, for the first time, the majority of global respondents now
believe that conditions are either improving or about to.

The picture in Pakistan

Although respondents in Pakistan to the global economic conditions
survey are becoming more optimistic about the prospects of the global
economy, concerns about the domestic economic situation have held
business confidence down, relative to the rest of the South Asian
sample, with no net gains reported since the first quarter of 2010.
While 60% of the Pakistan sample believed that the global economy is
either recovering or about to, the majority of respondents (54%)
reported that their confidence levels had remained unchanged in Q2
2010, while 23% reported confidence gains and an equal number reported

Key domestic influences included a high level of inflation, with 60%
of respondents reporting problems with rising operating costs, and
subdued demand, which affected 57% of respondents (or their clients).
The combined effect of the two has meant very subdued investment
activity: the supply of capital for investment has fallen
substantially as interest rates have remained high and profitable
investment opportunities have dwindled.

The Global Picture

While more members worldwide are now optimistic about economic
prospects, the majority of the 2,200 finance professionals responding
to the survey continue to have doubts about the apparent improvements.

The slowdown in Asia has continued for a second consecutive quarter,
and Africa, which had been performing strongly until recently, now
appears to be following suit. ACCA believes much of this slowdown is
down to a weak recovery in Europe and the US and to monetary
contraction in China, which has now continued for two quarters in a

The recovery in Western Europe, which had stalled in early 2010, has
now gone into reverse as fears about sovereign debt and the future of
the Eurozone weigh on finance professionals' minds.
Although investment is still low, business investment bounced back
faster in the second quarter of than at any time since the downturn
began, driven by both the incidence of profitable investment
opportunities and improvements in the supply of finance.

But the survey shows that time may be running out for business people
to capitalise on the conditions created by the downturn - with
business opportunities appearing to have peaked in the third quarter
of 2009.

The full report can be accessed on the following link :

Husnain Rasheed

Monday, June 14, 2010



14 June 2010 - Pakistan's Federal Budget 2010 aims to introduce
reforms for macroeconomic stabilization, greater provincial financial
autonomy, poverty alleviation and creation of a fair tax system. The
significant increase in the allocation of funds to provinces will
facilitate in alignment of their decisions to the socio-economic needs
of the citizens.
Looking at the budget through the lens of ACCA Pakistan, the challenge
for the provinces will be to create the financial and economic
management capacity to spend the budgeted funds in a manner that
delivers on their socio-economic aims in other words measurable
outcomes that deliver real benefits to the citizens.

A number of economic observers have repeatedly said that throwing more
money into the coffers of provincial governments is only half the job,
the other more important part is accountability and transparency of
its usage, this calls for greater financial resourcefulness, enhanced
financial reporting and management responsibilities. This results in
the need for thorough accounting, auditing and financial management
skills and knowledge enhancement as well as seeking professional
As professionalism of public sector becomes an international best
practice, the substantial increase in salaries of federal government
employees may help in addressing challenges of recruiting and
retaining professionals with the right mix of skills and knowledge
thus contributing towards efficiency and performance of the public
sector machinery.

Organisations like the AGP and CGA are already fast-tracking their
capacity building. Programmes like the project for improving financial
reporting and auditing (PIFRA) is already resulting in greater
accuracy and timelier financial reporting to ministries. This is vital
for managing the revenue generation and intelligent spending of
ACCA Pakistan considers the CGT (Capital Gains Tax) as a tax that
would contribute to fairer distribution of wealth; ACCA Pakistan
further endorses the phased approach to introduction of CGT. The road
map for CGT provided by the budget allows ample opportunity for the
accounting profession and their clients to factor in the impact of CGT
on their strategies and operations. Businesses should look up to their
tax advisers for better cash management and legitimate schemes to
reduce the burden of CGT.

The current budget appreciates the importance of investment to
business activity. Abolishment of custom duty on selected livestock
categories in line with the ACCA Pakistan budget proposals will boost
high yielding breeds of livestock in Pakistan. Similarly reduction in
filing requirements for withholding agents will lead to simplification
of documentation. However the increase in tax rate for small companies
from 20% to 25% may pose discouraging to enterprise in Pakistan.
Appreciating ACCA Pakistan's pre-budget recommendation to increase
income tax exemption slab for salaried and non-salaried individuals
which shall benefit 780,000 taxpayers approximately, concurrently
increasing their disposable income and stimulating consumption; this
budget envisages a fair tax system based on avoidance of
disproportionate allocation of tax burden.

The proposed system of General Sales Tax aspires to simplify the
taxation system and avoid the incidence of a single tax rate of 15% to
avoid burden on the tax payer. The tax exemption on education requires
reflection. Applying the principle of ability to pay, the education
sector may be classified into private and public sector education
whereby private sector educational institutions may be taxed at 15%.

With majority of Pakistan's population comprising of youth, skills
development especially in the rural areas is a priority. The proposed
scheme whereby unskilled workers in rural areas will be guaranteed
employment for one hundred days is commended. The success of this
scheme lies in carefully considering the training element of the
scheme which should endeavour to develop skills that are highly
practical and employable in the factor market.

A budget document is a planning document which is manifestation of a
government's annual revenue and expenditure expectations. The public
as stakeholders have the right to know how effectively the budgetary
forecasts and expectations have been achieved, and how transparently
the resources allocated have been utilized. The federal budget maker's
vision of a fair taxation system would benefit from more
accountability, transparency and probity of the budgetary exercise and
utilization of funds. ITS TIME TO WORK THE PLAN.

Notes to Editors

1. ACCA is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to
offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of
application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a
rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. We have
362,000 students and 131,500 members in 170 countries worldwide.

1. ACCA has worked with governments, national organisations and
development agencies in emerging economies- for over 20 years-
promoting the accounting profession, to create value for the
communities, businesses and individuals it serves.
2. ACCA believes that globalisation of business means that one set
of reporting standards is essential. We favour the principles-based
3. ACCA understands the real issues facing small businesses as
63,000 of our members work in SMEs or small partnerships worldwide.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

ACCA - PIFRA sign MoU for Financial English training

ACCA - PIFRA sign MoU for Financial English training

Islamabad: 10 June 2010: ACCA Pakistan reiterated the value of
Cambridge ICFE (International Certificate in Financial English) to its
partners in the corporate and public sector. ICFE - a joint
qualification of ACCA and University of Cambridge aimed at assessing
English language skills in the context of finance, accounting, and
auditing. It develops and validates first-rate English language skills
in four areas of reading, writing, speaking and listening.

Keeping in view the working of DAGP (Department of Auditor General of
Pakistan) and the CGA and their capacity building plans under PIFRA,
the concept of certification in Financial English was introduced to
PIFRA (Project for Improvement of Financial Reporting and Auditing)
and the DAGP. PIFRA recognizes the utility of this certification and
thus entered into an agreement with ACCA Pakistan and CFTR (Centre for
Financial Training and Research) for training 200 DAGP and CGA
officers and staff within a span of six months. Training will be
arranged at the Audit and Accounts Training Institutes at Islamabad,
Lahore and Karachi after the closing office hours.

Being an ACCA Approved Employer, the relationship between DAGP/PIFRA
and ACCA Pakistan stands further strengthened.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Suhail Ahmed, Project Director, PIFRA
said, "We seek value addition for our employees for effective outputs
and outcomes. This partnership between DAGP and ACCA Pakistan is
unique and may prove to be cornerstone for other similar progressive
initiatives." Also present at the signing ceremony were Mr Muhammed
Abdul Basir, Director General Operations, PIFRA, Mr. Fida Muhammad, DG
HRM, DAGP, Mr. Muhammad Ayaz, Director Training PIFRA, Mr. Muhammad
Salim Khan, Deputy Director Training, PIFRA, Mr. Mujtaba Iqbal, CEO,
Centre of Financial Training and Research and Mr. Shamez Mukhi, Head
of Marketing, Communications and Media Relations, ACCA Pakistan.