EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ZIA-UL-MUSTAFA AWAN, PRESIDENT ICMA PAKISTAN
(Pakistan & Gulf Economist Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) PROFILE
Zia-ul-Mustafa Awan was elected President of Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) in 2012 for the next three-year term. He is the youngest President, since the Institute's inception in the year 1951, which signifies the emerging trend of young leadership in the professional institutions. Previously, he served the Institute in various capacities such as Honourary Secretary; Chairman and Secretary of Lahore Branch Council, Chairman of Journal and Publications, Research and Development and CPD Committees.
As far as his Professional Career is concerned, currently he is the CFO and Business Administrator of Expo Lahore (Pvt.) Limited, a Joint Stock Company owned by the Federal Government through Ministry of Commerce and Punjab Government through Industries Department with a mandate to develop and operate Lahore International Expo Center. He is associated with Expo Lahore since its inception and has played a vital role in developing the project feasibility; project financing, project management and implementation. The Expo Center is the most modernised and well-equipped venue in context of its infrastructure and support services and it is playing a vital role in the promotion of trade and economic activities in the country through trade exhibitions.
Zia-ul-Mustafa Awan has vast professional experience in manufacturing, construction, engineering and services sectors. He has also diversified experience as an Educator, a Corporate trainer and Management Consultant. He also worked on Mega Infrastructure Projects such as Mangla Dam Raising Project and Mirani Dam Project.
In recognition of his meritorious services for Expo Center Lahore, he received an award by the then prime minister of Pakistan at the time of Inauguration of Lahore International Expo Center.
PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ON PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION IN PAKISTAN AND CONTRIBUTION BY ICMAP IN THIS REGARD
ZIA-UL-MUSTAFA AWAN: 'Professional education' can be defined as 'education for professional jobs', which generally includes law, medicine, accounting, teaching, etc. A 'professional' usually needs a highly qualified education and special training from a professional body or organisation.
As far as professional education in Pakistan is concerned, I think that though it is not up to the international standards, yet it is far better than many countries. I do not endorse the thinking of those who are negative about the quality of our professional education. In fact, this shows their mindset and negativity of approach towards national issues. No doubt, in general terms, there are inherent weaknesses in many professional institutes (irrespective of any profession) but there are excellent examples of several institutes in our country which have proved their excellence in imparting quality education and training and are internationally recognised as well. Some of these centres of excellence are Institute of Business Administration (IBA), LUMS, SZABIST, ICMAP, ICAP, GIK, FAST, NUST etc. There is need to change this mindset and give due recognition to such professional institutes. Yes, it is agreed that such professional institutes of excellence are only few, as compared to those in other countries.
We need to take concrete measure to seriously revamp and expand the quality of professional education in Pakistan.
Today, the role of accounting profession in the world economy has assumed greater importance in view of the severe impact of global recession. In particular, the role of management accountants has become more important, not only in the corporate level, but also at the national level, and even more importantly, at the regional and international level. The management accountants have played remarkable roles in global economic development. Their role in US, Europe, UAE, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Canada and other regions is well known through the reports that have been published from time to time. The Management Accountants of Pakistan have also played significant role in the national economic development by applying their professional skills and expertise for the development of public and private sector enterprises.
Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) is one of the leading professional accounting Institutes, with the distinction of being the sole regulatory body of Management Accounting profession in Pakistan. Its foundation was laid, way back in 1951, by the then Finance Minister, (late) Mohammad Shoaib, who was also its founder President. ICMAP has been granted statutory status through CMA Act, 1966 of the Parliament. Over the last sixty years, ICMAP has repositioned itself as a state-of-the-art professional education, examination, certification and regulatory body of Management Accountants; as an education institution of choice for students; a preferred source of supply of professional accountants; a dependable institution for all stakeholders; an incubator of R and D; a place to approach for HR-capacity building; and as a partner of the government in the development of economic and trade policies.
ICMAP has earned reputation both nationally and internationally for its high standard in imparting education and testing. It has been meeting an important national human resource need through a steady flow of professional management accountants to occupy leading positions in the federal government, semi-government and private sector organisations, in Pakistan and abroad. It is contributing immensely towards national economic development by catering to average population by providing them quality professional education at comparatively competitive fee, than being offered by other professional Institutes in Pakistan. Like any other professional institute, the Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan owes its reputation, its prestige and its standing mostly to its members. The Institute's reputation, prestige and standing directly and unmistakably correspond to the competence, professional abilities and ethical standards of its members.
If the Institute is likened to a tree, members are the fruits by which it is known. Today, more than 60 percent ICMAP qualified members occupy top to middle management positions in industry, financial institutions, consultancy firms etc., as CEOs, Managing Directors, Chairpersons, General Managers, Controllers, Finance Directors, Company Secretaries, etc.
PAGE: YOUR COMMENTS ON VALUE OF CMAS IN PAKISTAN AND ABROAD
ZIA-UL-MUSTAFA AWAN: The Management Accountants graduating from ICMAP have very broad vision of contributing a dynamic role as 'business leaders' in an organisation, instead of the traditional role of 'accountant' or a 'finance man'. They are now playing multi-dimensional roles in almost all facets of economic activity, whether it is a manufacturing company, a trading concern, a financial institution or a government organisation. They are always part of the cross-functional decision making teams and the main architects for creating value consciousness, leading to cost-competitive management decisions and appropriate pricing of products. This is absolutely essential if Pakistan's industry is to compete effectively in this era of increasing globalisation.
As a Management Accountant myself, I foresee a very bright future in Pakistan for the dynamic role of management accountants. They, by virtue of their professional expertise and acumen are well poised to serve the society at large.
In government, the Management Accountants can make dynamic contribution. They can assist in financial and managerial reengineering of operationally sick units. They can provide useful guidance to the government in rationalizing tariff and tax structure regime. They can also help in bringing down inflation by fixing selling price of consumer items and essential commodities, based on their cost of production. They can also be helpful in achieving revitalisation of economic activities as per objectives set by the government. This would certainly go a long way in putting the country's economic house in order.
In corporate sector, a management accountant is like a brain in the human body, which diagnoses the real problems of businesses that hamper their growth and development, and then suggest remedies by putting in place an effective control mechanism and operates as emergency alarm system. In this way, they play a contributory role towards strengthening the national economy.
The CMAs have also a challenging role in meeting the emerging global accounting challenges such as minimizing the cost of doing business, energy conservation, detection of corporate frauds, etc. They can also play an effective role in developing systems and standards to meet the requirements of corporate governance, CSR, business process re-engineering, information technology, management information systems, strategy planning and implementation etc.
PAGE: WHAT STEPS HAVE BEEN TAKEN BY ICMAP RECENTLY FOR THE BETTERMENT OF STUDENTS AND MEMBERS
ZIA-UL-MUSTAFA AWAN: The most significant and historical step taken by the Institute recently is its persuasion with the government to grant the new designation of "Chartered Management Accountants" to ICMAP members. It is quite reassuring that on the recommendation of the Ministry of Finance, Government of Pakistan, the approval of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet on this proposal has been granted on 12th December 2012. This Bill has presently been submitted to the National Assembly and Insha Allah it will be considered for approval.
The second important step that has been taken recently is the launching of new Syllabus 2012 that aligns with national and international standards. This new Syllabus has been carefully developed, keeping in view the emerging global requirements so as to have better acceptance in the global market and resultantly, we will be able to get more local and global recognition. It includes practical training in four modules by which students will be trained by engaging them in projects, case studies, practical demonstrations, etc.
Another significant step for the benefit of students is developing study materials, focusing on prescribed course outlines. Hopefully, these study materials will be published soon. Some other measures for students include renovations of existing campuses, establishing new campuses in Lahore (Raiwand Road), Faisalabad and other cities, equipping classrooms with multimedia facility, etc.
For members, a number of initiatives have been taken by the Institute recently for their image and capacity building. Most important step taken towards image-building of the Institute and its members was the launching of "Corporate Pakistan 2012 - mega trade exhibition" held from 9- 11 November 2012 at International Expo Centre, Lahore, which not only helped portray the corporate face of Pakistan to the world, but also further strengthened ICMAP-Corporate Sector relationship. This mega event was endorsed by the Ministries of Industry and Commerce; Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Stock Exchanges, SECP and other Government organisations. Around 75 organisations participated and more than 120 stalls setup. A Business Professional Conference, a National Youth Leadership Conference, SAFA Summit and Management Accountants International Conference were also organized on the sidelines. For the first time, Corporate, Professional and Leadership 'Excellence Awards' were conferred by ICMAP.
The Institute has also launched the 'Corporate Partnership Scheme' to collaborate and extend support in areas of HR, training, R and D, CSR and logistics. This initiative is also intended to utilize and further nurture the professional skills of our members for the benefit of the corporate sector.
Other initiatives taken by the Institute for the members include providing opportunity to them to become 'Corporate Trainers' and 'Professional Speakers' at national and international events; enhancement of Group Life Insurance to Rs1,000,000 from Rs200,000 and kinship discounts to the children of members.
PAGE: WHAT ARE THE FUTURE PLANS OF ICMAP
ZIA-UL-MUSTAFA AWAN: One significant future plan of the Institute is to launch the 'Director's Training Programme (DTP)' Certified by the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). ICMAP has already been granted approval by the SECP to conduct the DTP under the Code of Corporate Governance, 2012. The first Directors Training Program is scheduled to be held in February 2013 at Islamabad. Other programs will follow in major cities. Another important future strategy of ICMAP is to establish 'Overseas Branch Councils' at USA, UK, Canada, Australia, UAE and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to explore career and placement avenues, hold continuing professional development programs and to conduct examinations. It is expected that opening of overseas branch councils will strengthen our international standing with more acceptability of our members in the international corporate market.
ICMAP, as part of its future plan, will also be collaborating with the Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) to launch an 'Investors Education Programme', whereby a series of seminars would be conducted to raise awareness over issues pertaining to financial markets and encourage corporatisation initiatives among the general public. Similarly, the Institute also intends to conduct and issued certification programme on 'Diploma in IFRS' for its members and other stakeholders. The Institute has launched 'Corporate Partnership Scheme (CPS)' under which it will be collaborating with the government and public sector organisations, Chambers, Associations, Professional bodies, corporate sector and management consultants in the areas of HR, training, CSR, R and D and logistics support.
PAGE: COULD YOU GIVE YOUR INPUT ABOUT IMPROVEMENT IN EDUCATION SYSTEM OF PAKISTAN
ZIA-UL-MUSTAFA AWAN: In my opinion, the education sector of Pakistan still faces key issues and challenges, including low literacy level among females, particularly in rural areas, low primary completion rate, high pupil teacher ratio and inefficient budgetary allocation for education, in addition to limited physical infrastructure and lack of trained teachers. All these factors have hampered progress of education sector in the country. Another weak area is lack of linkages between industry and academia, which is having a negative impact on the performance of education sector in Pakistan, especially business education. Accomplishing these goals need strong political will and commitment from all the stakeholders i.e. the government, private sector, philanthropists and the business community.
'Honesty' and 'Literacy' are the two fundamental pillars of future progress, on which Quaid had laid greater emphasis. Alas, our society is today devoid of these two basis ingredients. Quaid-e-Azam advised his people to educate themselves and serve Pakistan honestly, earnestly and selflessly for it was only then that Pakistan would prosper and grow stronger. Pursuing this vision of the Quaid-e-Azam, it is absolutely necessary that sound education be imparted to the people to instill in them the highest sense of honour, integrity, responsibility and selfless service to the nation.
After 64 years of independence, we, as a nation, feel guilty to confess that we have not given due respect and importance to our Quaid's vision. Today, we are not considered as an educated country with high literacy rate in the comity of nations. Our literacy rate is amongst one of the lowest in the world. Educated nations have respect all around. They do not fight with each other and stand united as a nation.
I will conclude on an extract taken from the presidential address of Quaid-e-Azam, delivered at the All India Muslim League held on 23rd March 1940 at Lahore:
"Come forward as servants of Islam, organise the people economically, socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody"
The Quaid's vision is still there, what is needed is a firm resolve and spirit from the people and Government of Pakistan. Half-hearted efforts will not drive us forward. I am sure that the education community will always be on the forefront, like it was in the Pakistan movement, to achieve the Quaid's vision.
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