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French Version


Hariri stresses importance of transparency - Premier attends accounting conference (Daily Star)

Prime Minister Rafik Hariri considers sound accounting practices and transparency to be of the utmost importance on the eve of the Lebanese government’s privatization drive for some of its productive sectors.

“We are still suffering from the aftershocks of the fall of Enron and other world giants,” said Hariri, during the opening ceremony of the Association of Arab Accountants 12th conference in Beirut on Wednesday.

“A wave of worldwide reforms have been implemented to set new standards and regain investor confidence,” he added.

Hariri highlighted the fact that Lebanon was chosen by a World Bank study to be a role model in the examination of its accounting and auditing standards, as well as the extent of the application of those standards.
“The Central Bank prides itself in being at the forefront of financial globalization practices,” said Haroutiun Samuelian, vice-governor of the Central Bank. “Lebanese banks and financial institutions already apply most of the international banking practices,” he added.

According to Samuelian, Third World countries registered $170 billion in investments in 2002, a significant increase from the average of the annual $10 billion in the mid 70s.
“Economic development in the age of globalization goes beyond the geographical boundaries and natural resources of a country to focus on the investment climate,” explained Samuelian. “Skilled labor and the ability of industrialists to quickly respond to world market trends become pivotal,” he added.
“The downturn is that, most of the time, financial policies are subject to world financial currents,” he continued.

Hariri called on Arab governments to stay abreast of financial developments to avoid any future negative impact and participate in international developments from a position of strength instead of always lagging behind.
“Arabs should follow the example of the Japanese model where collective gains override those of personal interests,” said Mouwaffaq Yafi, head of the Certified Public Accountants in Lebanon. “The absence of a collective working spirit leads to a relative weakness of institutions in the face of globalization,” he added.

According to Yafi, the emphasis on the individual and the family in the Arab world leads to a lack of transparency in financial statements, including the absence of internal controls in operations.

Yafi considered objectivity, measurability, timeliness, and validity as the major pillars for any future financial standards and practices. Hariri called for the implementation of world accounting and auditing standards in the Arab world, the merger of small audit houses to create national giants capable of competing with world players, and the creation of a unified code for the Arab world in accordance with international standards.
“Our openness to the world should be in the form of a ‘Total Arab Vision’ for the benefit of each and every Arab country,” concluded Hariri.

Beirut 28-04-2003
Ara Alain Arzoumanian
The Daily Star



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