Hackett acknowledges that holding directors more responsible is an important step forward in improving UK corporate governance, but says the wording and interpretation of the reforms will be key to avoiding a “fudge”. “This could work really well, or it could cause some of the same counterproductive stuff we saw with Sarbanes-Oxley,” Hackett says. “It could lead to more of a checkbox approach. It could lead to directors trying to cover themselves rather than really engaging. But if they have to declare that they have looked at the risks and they’ve looked at their control structures, and they’ve done that in a substantive way, that could lead to directors getting much more engaged.” This would allow auditors to take more of a “controls-based approach” to audit, making the process more efficient. Alternatively, the new rules could see directors showing they’ve done the checklist of exercises around corporate governance to “cover their behinds”, bringing in “cumbersome and bureaucratic” processes that don’t fully engage directors into having proper oversight of their businesses, Hackett says. Key to ensuring directors are substantively engaged in financial reporting will be the power and resources of the new regulator, the Audit, Reporting and Governance Authority (ARGA) which is set to replace the Financial Reporting Council (FRC) as part of the overhaul. “If the regulator doesn’t have the resources to enforce, then we’re going to see trouble. A lot of the other reforms we’re seeing are going to put quite a lot of pressure on ARGA when it comes into being. “That for me is a real concern, but I think this goes a good way to realigning what ordinary people think happens when a company delivers a set of accounts,” Hackett says. Engine B’s head of audit and ethics believes the litmus test will be seen in those first few cases that ARGA takes on. The new regulatory body will need to have not only the resources, as their remit widens from the FRC, but the power to clamp down on poor engagement with risk assessments. “Will they accept the director who says: ‘Oh, yes there was a massive fraud under my watch which I wasn’t personally responsible for. But I held risk assessment exercises and I reviewed our system of internal controls so it’s not my fault’? “If ARGA will accept that, where actually a director should have been asking more questions, should have been more substantively engaged should have done that leadership… Those things are softer, they’re much harder to manage, how far should we expect directors to dig in and to explore all the risks?” In July 2020 the FRC set out the principles for the operational separation of audit practices of the Big Four firms, EY, KPMG, Deloitte and PwC. The objective of the split was to ensure that audit practices were focused “above all” on delivering high quality audit and were not dependent on subsidy from the consulting arms of the Big Four firms, the FRC said.https://www.accountancyage.com/2021/02/19/audit-reforms-must-not-descend-into-checklist-exercise/
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While many other destinations slammed their borders closed, the Maldives chose to fully reopen to travelers from any country, regardless of the status of the virus there, in July 2020 . Maldives set to become world's first country to offer a traveler loyalty program Part of the decision was financial. According to data from Michigan State University, tourism contributes 28% of the Maldives's GDP , one of the highest totals in the world. The country's geography also lends itself well to coronavirus protocols. Many hotels and resorts are on their own private islands -- there are more than a thousand to choose from, even before man-made islands come into the equation -- which makes isolating and social distancing exceptionally easy. Countries around Asia and the Pacific have been more cautious about reopening than those in Europe and North America, meaning that tourists in the region had few options for places to go. As other popular Asia-Pacific island getaways like Tahiti, Bali and Phuket remained off-limits, the Maldives took advantage of the fact that they were in relatively good shape with the virus. The places that have since reopened have done so with significant caveats. For example, Thailand and Sri Lanka both require a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine before being able to travel elsewhere in-country. Understandably, there were some hiccups. The Maldives reopened unconditionally in July, only to walk it back in September by requiring all travelers to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test upon arrival. The Maldives' heavy reliance on ultra-luxury resorts also worked in its favor when it came to testing and social distancing. For example, some high-end properties conduct additional in-resort Covid testing as an added layer of protection against the spread of the virus. The One&Only Reethi Rah (pictured) had its doors open for most of 2020. Thoyyib Mohamed is the managing director of the Maldives Marketing & PR Corporation, the country's national tourism authority. He says that the country received a total number of 555,494 visitors in 2020, surpassing their adjusted arrival forecast of 500,000 arrivals by the end of 2020. "Our biggest advantage is the unique geographical features of Maldives," he says, adding that the implementation of strict hygiene protocols combined with the ease of spreading people on different islands made a compelling combination for travelers who wanted to get away from it all. "We promoted the destination as a safe haven to the tourists." Infrastructure played a role as well. Many resorts have private boat or plane transfers built into their packages, meaning that visitors who arrived in the country could get to their final destinations without encountering many -- if any -- other tourists. Jan Tibaldi, general manager of One&Only Reethi Rah, tells CNN Travel that while they didn't have significantly more visitors in 2020 than they did in 2019, there was a massive increase in the amount of time these visitors were spending there.https://www.cnn.com/travel/article/maldives-tourism-arrivals-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html