Home Insider A closer look at Accountancy Profession in Myanmar

A closer look at Accountancy Profession in Myanmar


Accountancy profession in Burma (Myanmar) could be said to have root- ed as a distinct profession with the in- troduction of the Indian Companies Act 1913 (ICA) while Myanmar, along with India, was a dominion of the British Empire although it might have existed earlier in an orthodox manner. Imme- diately after ICA’s promulgation and before the Indian Auditors’ Certificate Rules emerged out of section 144 of ICA, local holders of Indian Govern- ment Diploma Accountants (GDAs) were authorized to act as auditors un- der ICA.

Registered Accountants

After separation of Myanmar from India, Burma (Myanmar) Auditors’ Certificate Rules, 1939 was promulgated in accor- dance of which a new well-structured the- oretical (academic) and practical training (apprenticeship) courses with syllabus, examinations and articled apprenticeship very similar to those of the then Chartered Accountants courses of the Great Britain, emerged and those then existing GDAs were allowed to be registered as Registered Accountants (RAs). Thus the new type of professional accountants followed the code of ethics in parity with contemporary inter- national practices. The regulatory body of the accountancy profession was adminis- tered by the Burma (Myanmar) Accoun- tancy Board. After Myanmar gained in- dependence in 1948, some laws, rules and regulations were introduced, reviewed and amended with the intention to protect or en- courage national interest, one of which was the Burma (Myanmar) Auditors’ Certificate Rules, 1956.

In early 1957, a rift within the ruling party of the post-independence democratic govern- ment led to the transfer of power to a Mili- tary Care-taker Government whose primary duty was to hold a countrywide fair and just election and hand over power to the newly elected government. In 1959, power was handed over to the new elected government which faced political challenges with ethnic groups culminating to military coup de tat in 1962. The military government adopted Burmese Way to Socialism Party designed to rule the country forever. Relations with the west became very sour and the coun- try went into self-imposed isolation from the democratic world. Businesses and even schools, colleges and hospitals were nation- alized and indoctrinated with socialist ide- ology, replacing English or other languages with Myanmar language. Once they became State owned, the accounting systems were changed to a government system and au- dits were conducted by State owned audit department headed by the Auditor General. Private accounting and auditing practices dwindled and State accounting and audit- ing expanded. The socialist government did not allow political parties, trade unions and other labor unions to interfere in its admin- istration and thus its rule became authori- tarian rule. All along, the military govern- ment did not totally abolish the accountancy profession and instead kept it alive and con- tinued using it to suit the socialist economy.

Certified Public Accountants

In 1972, Burma (Myanmar) Auditors’ Certif- icate Rules, 1939 was replaced by Myanmar Accountancy Council Law and the regulato- ry body of Burma (Myanmar) Accountancy Board was replaced by Myanmar Accoun- tancy Council (MAC). This law created a new type of accountancy profession called CertifiedPublicAccountants(CPAs)replac- ing the then existed RAs. At the beginning, only Commerce Graduates of the Institute of Economics were eligible to pursue the CPA Course which required attending and passing well-structured two professional examina- tions, with two years’ articled apprenticeship.

Due to self-imposed isolation of our gov- ernment, our members of the accountancy profession were not aware of the outside de- velopments in the International Accountan- cy Standards (ISA) by the International Ac- counting Standards Board (IASB) and in the International Standards on Auditing (ISAs) by the International Federation of Accoun- tants (IFAC). Myanmar did not have writ- ten generally accepted accounting principles and as such Myanmar professional accoun- tants in the private sector were following the generally accepted accounting and auditing practices. The public sector (government sector) followed government codes.

Dissatisfaction of the general public towards the socialist government gave rise to a gen- eral commotion and uprising against the government, necessitating military coup de tat in the third quarter of 1988. The mili- tary coup leaders at the outset declared market economy and envisaged multi-party democracy and formed The State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLOC) Govern- ment. SLORC lured foreign investments by enacting Foreign Investment Law, opened Myanmar Investment Commission and re-activate Myanmar Companies Act ad- ministering through Companies Registra- tion Office. However, having unavoidably used force in restoring law and order and imbued with military mindset and style, SLORC’s rule was sanctioned by the west.

Having restored law and order to a certain extent, the military government replaced SLORC with State Peace and Development Committee (SPDC) Government.

MAC, the regulatory body consisting of 15 members headed by the Auditor General ap- pointed every four yearly by the government from heads of government agencies and from practicing accountants, administers the accountancy profession in accordance with the MAC Law using the Office of the Auditor General together with the staff as its secretariat. MAC’s administration was and is partially now very rigid and governmental in functioning. MAC Law allows only CPAs holding CPA qualifications to practice audit- ing and conduct auditing business. In 1994, MAC Law was amended slightly to enable the Controller of Military Accounts (CMA) to audit military participated joint ventures and companies. MAC as regulatory body became a primary member of the ASEAN Federation of Accountants (AFA) in 1999.

MAC had prescribed at first some of the In- ternational Accounting Standards as Myan- mar Accounting Standards in two batches on 5-3-2003 and 7-1-2004. MAC then pre- scribed International Standard of Auditing as Myanmar Standards on Auditing (MSA) on 13-2-2009. On 3-11- 2009, MAC pre- scribed the International Financial Report- ing Standards for Small and Middle-sized

Entities (IFRS for SMEs) as Myanmar Fi- nancial Reporting Standards for Small and Middle-sized Entities (MFRS for SMEs) to be effective from 1-4-2010. In order to con- form to the international accounting frame- works in all respects, MAC, on 6-5-2010, re- placed the previous MAS with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) re- naming as Myanmar Financial Reporting Standards (MFRS).

Realizing the acute shortage of qualified ac- countants in the economy, MAC has extend- ed the eligibility to pursue CPA courses from Bachelors of Commerce and Accountancy to any graduates with Diploma in Accounting conferred by MAC of any year. As a result, this academic year of 2014-15, an unprece- dented number of over 700 students are ad- mitted to the first year CPA classes for which a class has been opened in Nay Pyi Taw for the first time in history. MAC has included in the forthcoming amendment of MAC Law the handing over of teaching to private tui- tion providers while MAC will conduct the examinations in order to maintain a high standard of quality.

Myanmar Institute of Certified Ac- countants

With the kind permission of MAC, Myan- mar Institute of Certified Public Accoun- tants (MICPA) was formed in 2003 as a non-governmental civil society with the Ministry of Home Affairs. MICPA started as an ordinary accountancy association under the guidance of MAC. It is striving its best to upgrade the qualification of its members through continuing professional educa- tion and development seminars and work- shops on its own and with assistance from various international organizations ACCA, ICAEW, CIMA and GIZ. Looking forward to becoming a member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFACT), it had changed its registration under the Ministry of Home Affairs for to incorporation as an association not for profit under Myanmar Companies Act in January 2014. It has gradually received the recognition of MAC as a national professional body by inclusion of its role in the forthcoming amendment of the MAC Law. It has nominated two delegates to attend the World Standards Setters Conference 2014 organized by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) to be convened in London on 29th and 30th September 2014, to which three of its other volunteer observers are also going to accompany, to observe the inner working of the IASB.