2011 ICAC Caribbean Conference of Accountants - Jamaica

Some 900 accountants, finance professionals and business leaders from the Caribbean gathered in Kingston, Jamaica’s capital city over the period June 23-25, 2011 for the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean’s (ICAC’s) 29th Caribbean Conference of Accountants.

The conference theme, “Third to First - Going the Distance”, focus on winning strategies for achieving success and identifying creative approaches to help build a first world Caribbean region. It also examined the developmental strategies engaged by countries as a model for the transformation of the region’s economies from developing to first world status.

The theme, “Third to First - Going the Distance”, drew its inspiration from the disciplined performance of the region’s outstanding athletes who have consistently demonstrated through their focus and commitment that they can be world-class achievers.

The 2011 conference, which was hosted by the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Jamaica (ICAJ) at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, Kingston, Jamaica, commenced with a Welcome Cocktail Reception on Thursday, June 23, 2011, where delegates enjoyed delectable Jamaican cuisine and colourful entertainment by the Carifolk Singers, L’Acado Drummers and the nostalgic strains of a Mento Band.

Jamaica’s Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, delivered the opening address, “Third to First - Getting Started” at the official opening ceremony on Friday, June 24. Delegates were also warmly welcomed by outgoing ICAC President, Harryram Parmesar and ICAJ President, Archibald Campbell.

In his address, Prime Minister Golding officially announced his government’s plans to initiate measures for comprehensive tax reform as early as January, 2012 and explained that the aim of the tax reform programme was to “completely rationalize the tax system in Jamaica”. He stated that all Jamaicans would benefit from the comprehensive tax reform proposal that was recently tabled in Parliament as a green paper entitled, “Tax Reform in Jamaica”. He added that the programme would be accompanied by a public sector rationalization programme that will merge accountability and responsibility with authority. The green paper proposed, among other things, a lowering of the General Consumption Tax and Income Tax rates.

ACCA President, Mark Gold, also delivered a presentation entitled, “Role of the Profession in the Development of the Region’s Economics” at the opening ceremony.

The conference’s keynote speaker was economist Professor Henri Ghesquiere, Visiting Professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and Author of “Singapore’s Success: Engineering Economic Growth”. In his address, Professor Ghesquiere, described Jamaica’s development outcome over the past four decades as “disappointing” and further expressed that the positive initial conditions that Jamaica had in its favour four decades ago included location, a deep waterport, English language, natural resources and tropical beauty. He further stated that “in the 1970s long-term economic growth was not the primary objective as competing goals took over”, and that “for extended periods of time, polarization and discord stood in the way of creating consensus in favour of sound long-term policies”.

Professor Ghesquiere highlighted the five “building blocks” for Singapore’s achievement of “first world” status as, seeing the potential for success in initial conditions; the will to achieve long-term economic growth; discipline in the areas of budgeting, competitiveness and the rule of law; seizing opportunities for economic growth, and the realistic use of incentives. He said these building blocks used by Singapore can also be used by other countries, such as those of the Caribbean, but needed to be adapted to suit cultural and other local peculiarities.

Presentations and speakers during the technical sessions on the first day of the conference were:

  • No Room for Error by Milton Samuda, President, Jamaica Chamber of Commerce
  • The Road to First: A Caribbean Perspective by Carlton Barclay, Assistant General Manager, Finance Administration & Planning Jamaica National Building Society
  • Leading and Driving Change in the Caribbean through Information and Communication Technology – by Carolyn Purchell, Senior Director of CISCO Systems Inc., Fujitsu’s Strategic Partner

Other presentations led by expert speakers from the Caribbean, the UK, Canada and the USA were:

  • R. William Phelps, Executive Vice President, Corporate Services, CARANA Corporation who addressed the topic, “Pioneering the Future amidst Financial Crisis.”
  • Andrew Deutscher, Vice President of Business Development, The Energy Project, who presented on the topic, “Winning Strategies: Developing Human Capital and Building to Achieve Uncommon Success”.

After a full day of presentations and panel discussions, delegates partied and socialized at the President’s Dinner held at the Wyndham Kingston Hotel. During dinner, Harryram Parmesar formally handed over the baton of leadership to newly-elected ICAC President, Joan E. Brathwaite, Partner with Deloitte & Touche, Barbados. He thanked the Board of Directors for their support during his tenure as President and Chairman of the ICAC Board.

The technical session on Saturday, June 25th began with a presentation by Dennis Chung, Project Manager, Air Jamaica Divestment on Competitive Analysis of the Region. This was followed by the presentation on “Gaining the Competitive Edge: Becoming a Region of Excellence,” presented by Professor Michael Fairbanks, Founder & Chairman of the OTF Group and a strategy facilitation session on “Picking Strategies to Build A First World Region” led by Dr. Maxine Garvey, Senior Corporate Governance Officer, International Finance Corporation.

The 30th Caribbean Conference of Accountants to be held in June 2012 in Antigua was promoted during the closing session of the conference. This was followed by the closing address which was delivered by the newly-elected ICAC President, Joan Brathwaite, who thanked the delegates for their tremendous support in making the 29th Caribbean Conference a success.

The conference ended with a bang on Saturday night with a Fun-Time-Fete at Fort Charles, Port Royal, themed “Pirate’s Night”, which drew scores of costumed delegates in pirates’ eye patches, red scarves, and some in pantaloons to boot! The merrymaking continued early into the morning and was the perfect culmination to an enjoyable and very successful 2011 Conference.

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