The Evolving Field of Audit Regulation: Charting the Path toward Independent Audit Regulation in Morocco and Tunisia with a View to Enhancing Audit Quality for Small and Medium Practices (SMP) and Large Practice Firms

Gabriella KUSZ

Senior Financial Management Specialist

 

Under the broad umbrella of seeking to strengthen audit quality for audit firms of all sizes (in particular, small and medium practices [SMPs]) throughout Morocco and Tunisia, the World Bank MENA Governance Global Practice recently facilitated a Workshop on “The Evolving Field of Audit Regulation”. The Workshop was supported and financed by the MENA Micro-, Small- and Medium Enterprise (MSME) Facility in cooperation with the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR) and the Conseil Supérieur de l’Ordre des Experts-Comptables (CSOEC) France and the French Compagnie Nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes (CNCC). This event brought together more than 25 representatives from the profession, as well as officials from the Ministries of Finance, Central Banks, Capital Markets Authorities, Supreme Audit Institutions and other relevant stakeholders. During the Workshop, participants discussed the evolution of audit regulation within these two countries, opening a dialogue and discussion on country progression toward independent audit regulation.

This event was structured as a 2-day Workshop and offered the following:

·         An opportunity for the Ordre des Experts Comptables Maroc (OECM) and the Ordre des Experts Comptables Tunis (OECT) to commence dialogue on the subject of independent audit regulation by opening with an overview of the current state of audit regulation in their respective countries;

·         A presentation and insight from the CNCC-CSOEC France regarding the role of Professional Accountancy Organizations (PAOs) in supporting and facilitating evolution of audit regulation;

·         An introduction to the subject of independent audit regulation, what  it means for the development of audit regulation in emerging countries, and an overview of IFIAR as an organization;

·         Insight into the systems of independent audit regulation in France,  Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom; and

·         A national discussion on how to gradually progress toward a system of independent audit regulation.

As key aspect of this event was to identify tangible next steps which may guide the evolution of audit regulation in these two countries.

In brief, the three tangible next steps agreed upon by the Moroccan working group included:

(i) Enhancing the audit quality assurance system of the OECM by including external representatives on their Control Committee which is responsible for overseeing the system of audit quality assurance;

(ii) Updating of the World Bank Accounting and Auditing Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (AA ROSC) so as to obtain a systems-view of the country’s current accountancy environment; and

(iii) Enhancing transparency of the financial performance of entities by engaging with other stakeholders to discuss the possibility of reducing the mandatory audit threshold from 50 Million Dirhams to levels more appropriate to the size and needs of the Moroccan MSME sector.

 

The three tangible next steps agreed by the Tunisian working group included:

(i) Organizing local events in order to raise awareness among different stakeholders (public and private sector) about the need and importance of an independent audit regulation system;

(ii) Exploring the opportunity to have access to the DDPI (Direction du Developpement et des Partenariats Internationaux) quality assurance software in order to enhance the audit quality assurance system among Small and Medium Audit Practitioners (SMPs); and

(iii) Speeding up the approval process for the new version of the law governing the accounting profession in Tunisia.

These tangible next steps will be captured along with other relevant details in the form of a Solutions Paper which will outline how Morocco and Tunisia may progress in a gentle shift toward independent audit regulation.