SAIPA urges government to recogniseProfessional Accountants as “essential services” providers
South African Institute of Professional Accountants
22 April 2020
AUDIENCE: This news will be of utmost concern to:
- Millions of SMEs, many of whom are unable to meet their legal, financial and tax obligations without the assistance of a Professional Accountant, and
- Over 40,000 Professional Accountants, who are prohibited from rendering services vital to economic sustainability.
The South African Institute of Professional Accountants (SAIPA) has written to several Ministers, urging that the services of Professional Accountants be recognised as an “essential service”. Recipients include the Minister of Finance, the Minister of Trade and Industry, and the Minister of Small Business Development, among others.
In its letter, dated 15th April 2020, the Institute presented the following motivation for its request:
Economic continuity and recovery during and after COVID-19 depends largely on:
- The ongoing collection of various taxes
- The ability of businesses to access emergency funds
- Workers being paid on time
Many SMEs are not digitally equipped to access online services and documents, including those provided by SARS. They, therefore, cannot meet their tax or payroll obligations, or submit applications for government aid.
In addition, many are not competent to correctly compile and submit accurate tax declarations or pursue the process to conclusion except through their Professional Accountant.
SMEs often maintain either physically recorded or computerised transactions that can only be retrieved at their business premises. This includes their payroll data, with their accountant frequently being the sole administrator of salaries and wages, PAYE, UIF, SDL, etc.
Critically, only accountants are professionally qualified to compile acceptable financial statements, reports and other documentation required by government funding institutes. Without these, funds that could keep SMEs afloat and save jobs will not be released.
It falls to Professional Accountants to travel to the business premises, convert physical or electronic data to the required format and make the necessary submissions.
Denied these services, many SMEs will certainly fall foul of the law, fail their cash-strapped employees, and be deprived of cash injections critical to their survival.
SAIPA has already issued regulations to its members, promoting strict adherence to social distancing and safe working standards should they be recognised as essential service providers. Non-complying members will face disciplinary action.
The Institute has not yet received a suitable response from any of the letter’s recipients.
Members of the media are invited to obtain more information by interviewing SAIPA Chief Executive, Shahied Daniels, or Technical and Standards Executive, Faith Ngwenya.