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Online Story
| ST Forum
Jan 26, 2007
New accounting standards for charities may not be helpful
Unlike some specialised industries such as the insurance and banking sector, having a new set of accounting standards for charities may not be helpful and beneficial.

To make matters worse, it will pose a tough challenge for charities to recruit accounting personnel. In our present materialistic world, how many accounting-trained people will be keen to carve a career in the charities world when they can make better money in the commercial world?

Most importantly, one must be discerning to know that the present charities scandals is tied to the integrity of key personnel. For individuals who are prepared to serve, they should be prepared to do exemplary work for low remuneration.

It is tough for external auditors to do a balancing act between risks and rewards in the audit of charities. Some external audit firms are wary of the risks involved in the audit of charities and stay away from them.

One solution is for the relevant charities watchdog to set up a specialised unit to take over the role of external auditors and conduct audits of charities.

In this way, the audit personnel will be more familiar with charities governance and adept at discovering fraudulent practices. They will also be in a better position to share the good practices and internal controls with voluntary organisations.

Therefore, I believe the change of statutory requirements on the audit of charities is more cost-effective than a change of accounting standards for charities.

Accounting professional bodies in Singapore should also supply a pool of accountants who are keen to give back to society by taking on the role of treasurers in charities.

In the long term, the next challenge will be for our educationists to instil the right values in our young and nurture the next generation to work for charity.

Lee Soh Hong (Miss)

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