South Africa maintained its number one ranking for the strength of the Auditing and Reporting Standards for the fourth year in a row according the World Economic Forum's (WEF) Global Competitiveness Report for 2013-2014, released on 4 September.
Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors (IRBA) CEO Bernard Agulhas says the ranking brings confidence to foreign investors that they can trust and rely on our auditing strength despite the economic meltdown that the country is experiencing.
"We are proud to have achieved such a world renowned ranking for four years in a row now. More importantly, this ranking further strengthens the IRBA's role as an embedded protector of confidence in the sustainability of the system. Such confidence provides the required comfort to a wide range of stakeholders that the financial statements on which auditors express assurance are reliable, therefore enabling investors to make informed decisions about their investments" says Agulhas.
The WEF's Global Competitiveness Report, which is conducted annually, has ranked South Africa number one for 2010/11, 2011/12, 2012/13 and now for 2013/14 in the strength of Auditing and reporting standards out of 148 countries. This follows SA's move up from second place in 2009 and fourth place in 2008.
Finland was ranked second and New Zealand third for their strength of auditing and reporting standards in the 2013/14 report. South Africa also achieved number one rankings for Efficacy of Corporate boards, Protection of minority shareholder's interests, Regulation of securities exchanges and Legal rights index.
The WEF's 2013/14 Global Competitiveness Report assesses the competitiveness of economies, providing insight into the drivers of their productivity and prosperity by examining various factors that enable economies to achieve sustained economic growth. The Report series remains the most comprehensive assessment of national competitiveness worldwide.
South Africa's decision to adopt the globally recognised International Standards on Auditing (ISA) as well as the International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) as early as 2005 had a direct impact on South Africa's leading ranking in this section of the report.
"Foreign investment into South Africa stimulates economic growth for the nation and creates employment, and it is encouraging that our achievement as a respected player in the global financial markets contributes to the country's national imperatives." continues Agulhas.
He emphasises that South Africa also has a vital role to play to support other countries on the African continent in improving financial standards and reporting excellence so that Africa can become internationally respected in global markets.
"As the custodian of the auditing profession, the IRBA, together with the profession, must maintain the quality and integrity of the audit system, thereby contributing to the protection of the financial interests of the public" concludes Agulhas.
For more information this year's World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, please visit www.weforum.org. South Africa's country profile is on pages 346 -7.