REGULATORS inked a deal that puts the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) as head of the accreditation and selection process for external auditors in a bid towards greater ease of doing business, the central bank said in a statement on Saturday.

The Financial Sector Forum (FSF), which includes the SEC, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), Insurance Commission (IC), and the Philippine Deposit insurance Corp., signed a multilateral memorandum of agreement with the Professional Regulatory Board of Accountancy to promote ease of doing business and compliance to international standards of auditing.

Under the framework, external auditors will only need to file for their applications with SEC. Other member agencies of the FSF can tap on the existing information-sharing platform to complete the evaluation and accreditation or selection process for external auditors.

“All applications received under the new framework were processed and approved within the 20-day processing time as required under the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018,” the statement quoted SEC Chairman Emilio B. Aquino as saying.

The agreement also lays down the arrangement on the conduct of the Nationwide Regulator’s Forum, which is a venue to discuss with external auditors the developments in regulatory issuances and international standards in the field of accounting and auditing.

The framework was already adopted by the BSP under Circular 1040 dated May 20, 2019, the IC under Circular Letter No. 39 dated Aug. 8, 2019, and the SEC under Memorandum Circular No. 20 dated Nov. 11, 2019.

“This initiative is in recognition of the critical role of external auditors in promoting the fairness and integrity of financial statements and in strengthening market discipline in the financial industry,” BSP Governor and FSF Chairman Benjamin E. Diokno said.

From November 2019 to May 31, 2021, the SEC has processed and approved 251 applications for accreditation. The agency has also greenlit external audit accreditations, at 194 for BSP and 117 for IC.

The central bank earlier said that inclusion in the list of accredited external auditors is valid for five years or for a shorter period, depending on the agencies. — Luz Wendy T. Noble