Profile of the Country
1. Information of the Country
Brunei Darussalam is located on the north-west of Borneo Island with a total area of 5,765-sq. km. The capital city of Brunei Darussalam is Bandar Seri Begawan. The country has four districts which include Brunei and Muara District, Tutong District, Belait District and Temburong District with population of 421,300 people residing in the country. The official religion of Brunei Darussalam is Islam as specified in the Constitution of Brunei Darussalam with His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan as the head of the Islamic faith in the country. Other faiths which are also practiced in the country include Christianity and Buddhism. The Official language of Brunei Darussalam is Malay but there are also other languages which are widely spoken which include English and Chinese (various dialects).
2. Professional Associations
Brunei Darussalam Institute of Certified Public Accountants (BICPA) which was established on 6th May 1987 is the main body for the accountancy profession in Brunei. BICPA’s main objectives are to support and advance the status and interests of the accountancy profession in Brunei. As of December 2018, BICPA had a total of 298 members comprising of honorary, associate, affiliate and provisional members.
To be admitted as an Associate Member, a person must be at least 21 years of age, and must be a member of one of the following associations of accountants:
(a) The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia, Canada, England and Wales, Ireland, Scotland or New Zealand;
(b) The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants;
(c) Australian Society of Accountants;
(d) New Zealand Society of Accountants; or
(e) Member of any other associate of accountants who, in the opinion of the Council, are of the standard in educational qualification and practical experience acceptable to the Council, with such administration to be decide on a case by case basis and on individual merit.
To be admitted as an affiliate member, a person must have academic qualifications in accounting or business and finances of at least degree standards recognised by and acceptable to the Council. Provisional members who hold HND majoring in business and finances or who are members of AAT and have at least 3 years appropriate work experiences and eligible to apply to be affiliate members of the institute.
Provisional members consist of all other persons involved in the accounting profession but may not qualify as associate or affiliate members. To be admitted as a provisional member, a person must meet the following qualifications:
(a) Holder of one of the following qualifications in accounting: Higher National Diploma, Higher National Certificate, Ordinary National Diploma, Association of Accounting Technicians, or any other smaller academic qualification in accountancy recognised by and acceptable to the Council.
(b) Students not less than 16 years of age who are enrolled in and are undergoing a course of study in accountancy.
3. Qualifying as an Accountants
Any person who fulfils the following requirements may apply to the Ministry of Finance and Economy for registration as a Public Accountant:
1. Must be above 21 years old or above.
2. Passed examination in accountancy from any recognised professional accountancy body listed below:
i. CPA Australia;
ii. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants;
iii. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia;
iv. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Canada;
v. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales;
vi. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland;
vii. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand; or
viii. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland;
3. At the time of application, possessed relevant audit practice of not less than three (3) years cumulatively within a five (5) year period following the qualification referred to in S.13 (1)(b)(i) and S.71(2)(c) of the Accountants Order. At least 2 out of 5 years must be post-qualification.
4. Acquired 40 units of CPE requirement of 20 units structured (verifiable) and 20 units unstructured (unverifiable). Structured means all CPE which has learning as the primary objective and which is measurable and verifiable. Unstructured means all CPE which has any form of informal learning or development of day to day working skills achieved through self-study and/or informal training.
5. Has membership in Brunei Institute of Certified Public Accountants (BICPA); and membership in the approved professional accountancy body as mentioned abovein second schedule:
i. CPA Australia
ii. The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants
iii. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Australia
iv. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Canada
v. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales
vi. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ireland
vii. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of New Zealand
viii. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland
4. Setting up an Accountancy Practice
A public accountant may practise through a company, limited liability partnership (LLP) or a partnership, which may be registered at the Registrar of Companies and Business Names (ROCBN), under the Ministry of Finance and Economy. Unless otherwise provided for, an accounting corporation must meet the following criteria:
a) Having a paid share capital of not less than $20,000;
b) Not less than 2/3 (including the chairman) shall be public accountants, but (i) the company or proposed company has only one director, that director shall be a public accountant; (ii) if the company or proposed company has only 2 directors, one of these directors shall be a public accountant;
c) Not less than 2/3 of the voting shares of the company or proposed company shall be owned by corporate practitioners;
d) Only individuals may own any shares of the company or proposed company;
e) The company or proposed company, so far as it relates to the provision of public accountancy services in Brunei Darussalam, will be under the control and management of one or more directors of the company who are public accountants; and
f) The company or proposed company is or will be covered by professional indemnity insurance, whichever is the higher B$250,000; a sum equal to the total of B$150,000 for every corporate practitioner in the accounting corporation or accounting LLP; or where applicable, a sum equal to two and ½ times the gross income of the accounting corporation or accounting LLP in the last completed financial year of the accounting corporation or accounting LLP, subject to a maximum of B10,000,000.
To set up an accounting firm by way of partnership, the organisation must meet the following criteria:
a) At least 2/3 of the partners are public accountants or if the partnership has only 2 partners, one of those partners is a public accountant; and
b) The business of the partnership, so far as it relates to the supply of public accountancy services in Brunei Darussalam, will be under the control and management of one or more partners who are public accountants ordinarily resident in Brunei Darussalam.
Unless otherwise provided by the law, an accounting LLP must comply with the following criteria:
a) The paid-up capital of the LLP is not less than B$20,000;
b) At 2/3 of the partners are public accountants or, if the partnership has only 2 partners, one of those partners is ordinarily resident in Brunei Darussalam;
c) The accounting LLP or proposed accounting Limited Liability Partnership shall be covered by professional indemnity insurance (requirements are similar to Accounting Corporation as mentioned above); and
d) The business of the accounting LLP, so far as it relates to the supply of public accountancy services in Brunei Darussalam, will be under the control and management of one or more partners who are ordinarily resident in Brunei Darussalam.
5. Law and Regulations on Accountancy Practice
The Accountants Order, 2010 came into force on 1st November 2012. As of 1st January 2018, there were 17 individuals registered as Public Accountants (PAs) under the Order.
Under the Accountants Order, 2010 “public accountancy services” covers the audit and reporting on financial statements and the doing of such other acts that are required by any written law to be done by a Public Accountant.
The Ministry of Finance and Economy is responsible for the following:
a) Registration and approval of public accountants;
b) Registration and approval of accounting corporations, accounting firms limited liability partnership (LLP);
c) Control and regulation of the practice of the profession of accountancy by public accountants, accounting corporations, accounting firms and accounting LLP;
d) Receiving any complaint against any public accountants, accounting corporations, accounting firms and accounting LLP;
e) Conduct or arrange for the conduct of such examinations as it thinks necessary for the purposes of registering public accountants;
f) Administer the continuing professional education programmes for public accountants; and
g) Consult the Brunei Darussalam Institute of Certified Public Accountants or such other person as he thinks fit.
The Minister of Finance and Economy has appointed Public Accountants Oversight Committee (PAOC) to discharge its duties and responsibilities, which includes 2 public accountants as members. PAOC is authorised under the Accountants Order, 2010 to act and advise on areas and issues related to the profession of public accountants.
His Majesty the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan has also appointed a Registrar of Public Accountants to carry out the functions and duties and exercise the powers conferred on him by the Accountants Order, 2010 such as:
a) To attend all meetings of the PAOC and record the proceedings thereof;
b) To conduct the correspondence and deal with such matters as may be assigned to him by the Ministry of Finance and Economy of the PAOC;
c) Issue all certificates and notices required to be issued under the law; and
d) Collect all fees payable under the Accountants Order, 2010.
6. Specific Regulation
In order to conduct audit of banks, finance companies, insurance companies, takaful operators and brokers, approval from Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD), which acts as the central bank in Brunei Darussalam is also required. For the appointment of an auditor to collective investment scheme, the Authority has to be notified on the matter.
As of the date of writing, tax services are not regulated in Brunei, as such, any audit or corporate services firms can provide tax services in Brunei.
Foreign nationals are required to obtain either professional visit visa and pass (for professional work/expertise required for a particular project awarded in Brunei Darussalam) or employment visa and pass (for employment in Brunei Darussalam) from the Department of Immigration and National Registration.
7. Monitoring Commitee
7.1. List of the member
Registrar of Public Accountants, Ministry of Finance and Economy
Representatives from Revenue Division, Ministry of Finance and Economy
Representatives from Labour Department, Ministry of Home Affairs
Representatives from Immigration Department, Ministry of Home Affairs
Representatives from Brunei Darussalam Insitute of Certified Public Accountants
Revenue Division, Ministry of Finance and Economy
7.2. Assesment Statements
7.3. Notes of Revisions