Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Polish Freaks

I just saw this headline juxtaposition in Polish heavyweights at Davos economic forum, which then leads: President Bronislaw Komorowski, Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Finance Minister Jacek Rostowski ... with the next headline being: Poles to become as fat as Brits?. Its good to know that heavyweights like Komorowski, et al are not normal.

Do you sleep well? Yes? Be careful who you tell, because you're weird. If you see people looking at you furtively and whispering to each other, they're talking about you, you freak. (68% of Polish people have sleeping problems according to the TV this morning.)

I'm proud enough of my own independence of mind to prefer the word 'eccentric'. Back at the end of November, I saw an article in Polish Market headed "Setting New Accountancy Standards". I thought might be worth reading - that's' pretty weird in itself. Revisions to accountancy standards rarely hit the general press, but can arouse enormous emotion in the business community, especially in the US. Changes are widely viewed as an attack on business integrity and entrepreneurial freedom. What new standards and what was the Polish reaction? However, it turned out that the article was just a space filler, saying virtually nothing and with the wrong headline.

However, I thought it would be helpful to insert a summary, since the actual answers are mainly waffle.

Professor Zbigniew Messner, President of the Accountants Association in Poland, talks to “Polish Market’s” Janusz Turakiewicz about keeping high accountancy standards in light of the global economic crisis.

Q. How do you assess Polish accountancy in the context of the global economic crisis?
My summary: No problem.
A: When Poland joined the European Union in 2004, our accountancy laws did not call for much adjustment, as Poland had been using statutory rules of accountancy standards and the certified auditor profession for ten years. Those rules took into consideration all the requirements of proper accountancy functioning in a modern economy. It should be remembered that the acts were based on long-standing achievements of the Polish academia staying in close touch – also during the period of planned economy - with the key global centres shaping the accountancy solutions worldwide. The combination of this knowledge, other scientific accomplishments, and business practice experiences along with the joint interdisciplinary reflection – even if only during Accountancy Congresses – has made it possible to adapt legal and organisational solutions of accountancy to the current economic needs.

It is often said that many crisis phenomena in the global economy result from the violation of the rules of business ethics, including those related to accounting. What does your Accountants Association do to prevent such situations?
My summary: We've copied what other countries do, but businesses decide for themselves.
A: The quality of accounting stems from two factors: personnel qualifications and the observance of professional ethics rules. The Association of Accountants in Poland has been active in both fields for a number of years. We have introduced a system of professional certification allowing for obtaining professional qualifications at consecutive stages – from an accountancy assistant to a certified accountant - and ensuring constant improvement of skills and knowledge of both our members and other accounting professionals. We have also approved an accountancy ethics code which specifies the rules of behaviour expected of people working in this field. It reduces the risk of situations conflicting with applicable laws and professional canons. Our solutions are based on principles developed by the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC). There is a positive climate of public support for our actions, reflected in the growing number of companies signing the Accountancy Ethics Code, and the participation of chief Polish business organisations in the Employers Council at the Accountants Association in Poland. Therefore, we hope that the necessity to observe rules of ethics in regard to financial statements will be taken seriously by the people who are active in all spheres of business in Poland.

Q: For many years the Accountants Association in Poland has taken part in the work of IFAC and European regional organisations. It has cooperated with professional accountants associations in numerous European countries. What Polish experiences are we transferring at the international level? What solutions – developed due to those contacts – have been implemented in Poland?
My summary: We have lots of foreign trips, doing some work in Poland as well.
A: We have been an active member of IFAC for over 20 years. Our representative is a member of the Developing Nations Committee at IFAC. Our delegates take part in the World Accountancy Congresses. In Poland, we have been popularising IFAC solutions, such as educational and ethical standards mentioned before. Let us not forget that the first texts of International Accounting Standards in Polish, announced by the European Commission, were based on translations prepared by our Association. We are also active in Europe, participating in the European Federation of Accountants and Auditors for SMEs (EFAA) based in Brussels. Furthermore, we carry out projects within the framework of bilateral cooperation with various organisations from a number of countries.

Smug and self-satisfied? Me or the Professor?

(I was going to put the last summary as a cynical alternative, but, then, I remembered being at a Brussels Standards meeting attended by a representative of the Polish Standards Organisation. Poor chap. If it hadn't been for me introducing myself before the meeting, he wouldn't have said a word. Does 'active' in the last answer mean:  'they speak' ?)

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