Accountants want stability

Written By : CHARLOTTE PETERS. Accountants are professionals who play an important role in our society thus contribute to the growth of economics and the well being of society. At
20 Jun 2008 12:00

Written By : CHARLOTTE PETERS. Accountants are professionals who play an important role in our society thus contribute to the growth of economics and the well being of society.
At the Fiji Institute of Accountants 36th Annual Congress, participants and members were reminded of the importance of their role and responsibility to create a future for our people.
Currently the institute has over 480 members working in all sectors of the economy.
President of the institute Nitin Gandhi said predicting the future was risky business and there were trends that would impact Fiji.
Mr Gandhi said these trends may converge and create a perfect storm scenario that would either trust Fiji into the future or leave us marooned.
In order to prepare for and anticipate this future he said, it was important to take a brutal and honest look at the challenges confronting Fiji today.
“The critical path by which we will tackle these challenges and realise the opportunities the future holds is not about elaborate planning or motivating speeches, it is about leadership.
“Leadership is about change. It’s about taking us from where we are now to where we need to be. Bottom line of what we would like to see is stability. A stable political and economic environment with long term stable policies,” said Mr Gandhi.
He said members of the institute worked in all sectors of the economy, in public practice, in large, medium and small firms and as individual practitioners. Mr Gandhi said they worked within commercial, industrial and financial enterprises, non-profit organisations and public sector entities, including academic institutions therefore contributing across all sectors of the community.
Accountants he said contribute to the growth of individual companies, support and sustain non-profit organisations and assist governments in achieving their economic and social objectives.
“They also contribute to financial marketing performance through the reporting of, and providing assurance on, financial information on which investors and other stakeholders rely on.
In these ways and others professional accountants contribute to the growth of economics and ultimately to the well being of society,” he said.
Australian High Commissioner James Batley said the many personal and professional links that exist between the accounting profession in Fiji and Australia formed an important strand in the broad web of economic and people-to-people relationships between the two countries.
Mr Batley said the situation in Fiji remains a deep concern to them despite the deep link between Fiji and Australia.
He said Australia remains Fiji’s largest trading partner, its largest source of foreign investment and tourists and its largest single aid donor.
“The current situation in Fiji does have implications for Fiji’s place in the region and in the world and, by the same token, for our bilateral relationship.
“This is so precisely because of the intricacy of the links between us. Already, the quality of relations between our countries has been damaged,” said Mr Batley.
Australia he said along with other members of the international community and the region have been urging Fiji to hold elections but until there was a return to constitutional, democratic and accountable government, the relationship between the two countries would inevitably remain constrained.
Mr Batley said Australia remains committed to working with other forum countries to address the situation in Fiji. “Australia won’t ever abandon Fiji and we stand ready to assist in Fiji’s current circumstances.”
He added that progress towards a genuine political dialogue would not only start to rebuild a sense of confidence among the broader community in Fiji but would also start to open doors for Australia.
Prominent Suva lawyer Richard Naidu told the accountants elections was not the cure for Fiji’s economy but was about following the rule of law and saying within the framework of the Constitution.
Mr Naidu said an election was one demonstration of Fiji’s ability to follow the rule of law.
“The election is not a magic cure for anybody’s ills. It’s about following the rule of law and staying within the framework of the Constitution because that’s what investors want,” said Mr Naidu.
He said investors wanted a stable, understandable set of rules that do not change adding the last 20 years things had changed.
“You have a coup and everything changes. Nobody knows that the law is and nobody knows what the rules are,” he said.
Former Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi said a new device like the people’s charter pushed on the people of Fiji would not be sustainable.
Ratu Joni informed the accountants if the interim government wished to force the charter on the people, as with the electoral system, it had the backing of the military to silence dissent.
In the long run he said the will of the people would prevail and stressed the need for the National Council for Building a Better Fiji to proceed quickly on the drafting the charter.
“The 1997 Constitution has been much maligned by a range of critics across the political spectrum but it was unanimously approved by the representatives of the people in Parliament.
“And it was the result of the most concerted efforts to ascertain the views of ordinary people ever undertaken in our history,” said Ratu Joni.
Ratu Joni there was no instant solution, to the challenges Fiji faced but as along as the contending parties were willing to engage in open dialogue, only then could one begin to deal with them.
This he said required the patience, forbearance, humility and goodwill to deal with issues that divided.
“It also calls for maturity. Without this, the country will continue to drift and resentment will foster.
“Placing preconditions serves little purpose other than to continue the impasse,” he said.
There were certain weariness he said among the ordinary people in Fiji and barking at each other and point scoring did not advance matters.
“They want some resolution to the stalemate. Low levels of economic growth, collapsing infrastructure, the land tenure issue, poverty and squatters require the commitment and attention of a government that has the backing of the entire community.”

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