The Institute of Chartered Accountant of Pakistan (ICAP) has been issued a show-cause notice by the country’s anti-trust watchdog for restricting competition in the profession of accountancy.
The Competition Commission of Pakistan has issued the notice pertaining to a directive the ICAP had issued on July 4. The notice, issued by the ICAP to members and chartered accountants, asked the latter to refrain from engaging accountant trainees from certifying bodies other than the ICAP – particularly trainees from foreign institutes, or any other accounting body of a similar nature. This excluded students associated with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW) and the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA) from being hired by an ICAP member institution.
The show-cause notice states that the ICAP directive forecloses access to a large segment of the relevant market to such students, which appears to be in violation of Section 4 of the Competition Act, 2010.
The notice further states that the move may also create barriers for persons who wish to offer accountancy services in Pakistan in the future; thereby preventing, restricting or reducing competition in these markets, which is in violation of the law.
Earlier, the CCP wrote to the ICAP on July 16, 2012 to ascertain the rationale behind the decision to bar offering training services to non-ICAP students, thus excluding a large segment of the market from acquiring professional training.
However, comments received from the ICAP failed to give any reasonable justification for the directive, said the CCP.
The ICAP has been directed to submit its written reply within seven days and appear before the CCP on September 24, 2012, to explain its position.
When contacted by The Express Tribune, ICAP President Rashid Rehman Mir refused to comment on the subject. “It’s just the beginning of the issue. I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to speak to the media regarding the show-cause notice,” Mir said.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.