ASEAN Integration

For the past several years the accountancy profession in the Philippines has been preparing for ASEAN integration which officially starts in 2015. The ASEAN integration is a cooperative movement within the ASEAN community composed of Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Brunei and the Philippines.

The cooperative movement consists of three (3) pillars: economic, socio-cultural, and political. The development has largely been on the economic side with the advancement of a regional economy characterized by the free flow of goods and services. This would mean lowering or removing trade barriers among the ASEAN countries.

The Philippine accounting profession has signed the region's Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA) which lays down the foundation for the practice of accountancy between and among member countries. The MRA will allow cross-border accountancy practice through compliance with certain standards, rules and regulations and considering the host country's professional requirements.

Essentially, a certified public accountant (CPA) or chartered accountant (CA) can practice in a host country in ASEAN by complying with the latter's professional requirements. In the Philippines, the ASEAN CPA or CA will have to possess the necessary educational background and pass the licensure examinations conducted by the Board of Accountancy (BoA).

The BoA is the government body under the Professional Regulations Commission that regulates and oversees the practice of accountancy in the Philippines. In the Philippine setting, the accounting profession has the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (PICPA) as the accredited accounting professional organization for ASEAN.

The accounting profession is composed of four (4) sectors: public, government, education, and commerce and industry. Each sector is under the umbrella of a professional organization, i.e., Association of CPA's in Public Practice (ACPAPP), Government Associations of CPAs (GACPA), National Association of CPAs in Education (NACPAE), and Association of CPAs in Commerce and Industry (ACPACI). However, all newly registered CPAs are accredited members of the mother organization, PICPA.

The ASEAN Integration also provides for the accreditation of CPAs or CAs who wish to practice in other countries in the region. Based on an agreed structure of equivalencies which is presently being finalized among member-countries, a CPA or CA can be accredited as an ASEAN professional provided he registers his qualifications with a central qualifying and coordinating body in ASEAN. This professional will then be able to practice his profession in the ASEAN country of his choice within the category wherein he is qualified.

The ASEAN integration is expected to broaden the employment of accounting expertise among the member countries and hasten the economic development in the region. This will also give rise to heightened competition among practicing professionals and encouragement of strategic alliances among accounting firms in the region.

MAC Targets SMEs in the Philippines

M.L. AGUIRRE & CO., CPAs (MAC) sees potential in the growth of the small and medium-scale enterprises (SMEs) in the Philippines. Small and medium enterprises start from P3 million (Euros 60,000) up to P100 million (Euros 2 million). SMEs represent 99.6% of all businesses registered in the country and employ 70% of the total workforce, according to the Bureau of Small and Medium Enterprise Development, a government agency, and these enterprises also account for 32% of the country's gross domestic product. The country's gross domestic product in 2011 was estimated at USD 227.6 billion (Euros 180 billion).

The potential of the SME sector lies in its failure to register, keep books, and pay taxes. SMEs also have limited access to organized markets, financing institutions, and learning centers. An accounting and consultancy firm that has the capability to serve the requirements of this huge market can reap significant dividends.

MAC is committed to providing immediate, relevant and reliable information systems to entrepreneurs in the SME market so that they realize optimum profitability and comply with statutory reporting requirements and taxation. It envisions itself to be a top challenger CPA firm, leveraging on its advisory expertise for SMEs, foundations, cooperatives, non-government organizations (NGOs), associations, funded projects, export-oriented, and non-stock- non-profit organizations.

Michael "Mike" L. Aguirre, MAC's managing partner, underscores the mission of the Firm by saying that "Our thrust is helping and encouraging business owners and pillars of the organization to adopt sound internal controls and operating systems. This will allow them to grow to the next level. We believe that our personalized and value-added services will lead to long-term business relationships. We support business development at every step - from company inception to regional expansion. We plan to establish our own network in Asia to help our clients expand beyond our country's borders. Presently, our Firm has an affiliated network in Malaysia. We intend to broaden this presence globally through further strategic linkages."

MAC recognizes the importance of attracting and maintaining a staff of competent professionals. M. L Aguirre reminds his pool of more than thirty young and highly trained accountants, auditors and consultants that "opportunities abound here at MAC for professional growth and client advocacy. We provide a progressive working environment that is supportive, diverse and flexible. We care about our clients and our people. We are committed to a united partnership for Nation Building."

M.L. Aguirre will enhance the Firm's linkages by attending the IGAL international conference in Venice slated for October 24-28, 2012.

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