History of the Institute
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History of the Institute

History of the Institute

The Malta Institute of Accountants was founded in 1942 under the Presidency of Paul Busuttil. In its early days it primarily consisted of experienced bookkeepers holding Head positions in the Civil Service, and a number of members employed with the only foreign auditing firm in Malta at the time, Turquand Youngs & Co.

In the very early stages, and prior to the introduction of the Income Tax Act in 1948, the accountant often was referred to as "l-iskrivan" (book-keeper). The introduction of the Income Tax Act and the post World War II wave of industrialisation saw the role of the accountant taking a new dimension.

With the expansion of business and with the ever-increasing complexity of business records, the value of the accountancy profession, as distinct from the class of book-keepers, was more generally felt.

This development saw the emergence of another local body of accountants under the name of "The Malta Corporation of Accountants" which was formed in 1954 under the presidency of John Falzon. The Corporation was the result of a group of qualified individuals’ ambition and desire to see a truly local Accountancy Profession emerging in Malta, as the Institute’s members at the time were primarily British accountants and experienced bookkeepers. In fact, to be accepted as Member of the Corporation one had to have a recognised accountancy qualification or was in the process of reading for one.

Above: Excerpt from the Times of Malta, 5 October 1954

The major driver behind the establishment of the Corporation was, however, the fear that as the Institute was primarily made up of foreigners, the end of the Institute would have meant the end of the Accountancy Profession in Malta.

The merger

Years of intense competition followed as both institutions were competing for the same small pool of individuals.

A major milestone for the profession came with the enactment of the Commercial Partnerships Ordinance which, amongst others, provided for the requirements of limited liability companies to appoint an auditor. This was in fact the first statutory recognition of the profession. This sole recognition was later to be safeguarded against the engagement of foreign auditors, and the Institute took a steady stance to prevent such foreign competitors.

One very important article in the CPO was article 140. In essence the article stated that the Minister (of Finance) could only grant a warrant to act as auditor to members of a professional accountancy body. In other words, this meant that the law needed to recognise a ‘chamber’ of accountants and auditors for the purposes of article 140.

It was then natural that both bodies desperately wanted recognition. However both were concerned, and at the same time dreaded, that only the other body would be acknowledged as the recognised body.

Meanwhile the Minister of Finance and Industry Giovanni Felice had asked both institutions for a list of their members and their respective competencies, qualifications and experience, for the purposes of assessing which body would be granted recognition. The Government consulted the UK Board of Trade and the latter was in fact of the opinion that both institutions had valid members and the board had decided to acknowledge both bodies.

The situation was confusing and detrimental to the Profession. Nonetheless, as the CPO was being introduced, Mario Felice, a lawyer by Profession and son of Minister Giovanni Felice, approached both institutions and proposed to form a merger between the Malta Institute of Accountants and the Malta Corporation of Accountants.

The two associations held two contemporary but separate extraordinary general meetings at the Chamber of Commerce in Valletta on 28 May 1965 where both bodies unanimously approved a motion to merge into one body under the name of "the Malta Institute of Accountants". At the conclusion of those extraordinary general meetings the 53 Institute members and the 18 members of the Corporation joined in another hall to hold the first official general meeting of the Malta Institute of Accountants (incorporating the Malta Corporation of Accountants), leaving behind all their differences and walking through the corridor as one Institute representing a truly unified Professional Body of Accountants.

Above: The Institute's first Members, 28 May 1965

At the Institute’s first General Meeting the Members present elected a Council of 12 members for the Institute as newly formed. The following were elected as the first Council members: Hon President, Paul Busuttil, President, John Falzon, Vice-President, Arthur Arrigo, Secretary, Joseph Tabone, Assistant Secretary, Sydney Barbara, Treasurer, Paul Galea Souchet, Assistant Treasurer, Anthony Camilleri, Members, Gontran Borg, Francis X. Darmanin, Edward Messina Ferrante, Charles Sammut and John L. Duncan.

For some years after the Institute was referred to as "The Malta Institute of Accountants Incorporating The Malta Corporation of Accountants".

The role of the Institute of Accountants, incorporating the Corporation of Accountants, was fully accomplished only after the merger which resulted in one strong and united profession committed towards serving the public interest in the most professional manner.

The following is a list of Members who served as the Institute’s President since the merger:

Year            President
1965 – 1966 Mr. John Falzon FIA, FCIS, CSA, CPAA
1966 – 1966 Mr. Joseph N. Tabone FIA, CPAA, FCIB, FCIS, FBIM, KM
1966 – 1968 Mr. Anthony H. Camilleri MIA, ACWA, CPAA
1968 – 1970 Mr. John Falzon FIA, FCIS, CSA, CPAA
1970 – 1972 Mr. Charles J. Sammut FSCA, CPA
1972 – 1973 Mr. Sydney Barbara MOM, FIA, ACIS, MIMgt (UK), CPAA
1973 – 1975 Mr. John Falzon FIA, FCIS, CSA, CPAA
1975 – 1977 Mr. Carmelo Mizzi FIA, FSA, CPAA
1977 – 1979 Mr. Albert E. Vella FAIA, FIA, CPAA
1979 – 1982 Mr. Francis X. Naudi FIA, AMIT, CPAA
1982 – 1985 Mr. Joseph N. Tabone FIA, CPAA, FCIB, FCIS, FBIM, KM
1985 – 1988 Mr. Frederick Mifsud Bonnici FCA, FIA, CPAA
1988 – 1991 Mr. Carmelo Casapinta FIA, CPAA
1991 – 1993 Mr. Andrew L. Manduca FIA, FCCA, CPAA
1993 – 1995 Mr. Charles Rapa FCCA, FIA, CPAA, MBA (Brunel)
1995 – 1997 Mr. John B. Zarb FCCA, FIA, CPAA
1997 – 1999 Mr. Anton Borg FCCA, FIA, CPAA
1999 – 2001 Mr. Steve K. Cachia FCCA, FIA, CPAA
2001 – 2003 Mr. Benjamin Rizzo ACMA, FIA, CPAA
2003 – 2005 Mr. Anthony Zarb FCCA, FIA, CPA, MBA (Warwick)
2005 – 2007 Mr. Mario P. Galea FCCA, FIA, CPA
2007 – 2009 Mr. Simon Flynn FCCA, BA (Hons) Accty., FIA, CPA
2009 – 2011 Mr. Bernard G. Scicluna FCCA, FIA, FMIT, CPA
2011 – 2013 Mr. Anthony Doublet FCCA, FIA, CPA 
2013 – 2015 Ms. Maria Micallef BA (Hons) Accty., FIA, CPA
2015 – 2017 Mr. Franco Azzopardi MSc Finance (UK) FIA CPA FIoD (UK)
2017 –         Mr. William Spiteri Bailey FIA, CPA

The examination scheme

Conscious of the need for more professionals to meet the ever-increasing demand for their services the Institute, in 1967, introduced its professional examinations generally based on those set by UK accountancy bodies, with which the Institute had very good relationships. The examination, spanned over a five-section curriculum, included specific papers relating to Maltese legislation for the benefit of professionals with foreign qualifications.

This step was critical in the promulgation of the Profession locally. Prior to the introduction of the Institute’s examination scheme, the only opportunity one had to qualify as an accountant was to study abroad. The setting up of a local examination scheme gave prospective students access to local tuition and to a local path leading to an accountancy qualification. The establishment of a local examination scheme was therefore critical to the regeneration and development of the strong Profession that Malta can boast of having today.

Preliminary discussions with ACCA started way back in 1973 when the ACCA President and Secretary at the time came to Malta to deal over the venture. Both institutions had explored possibilities by virtue of which they could be of mutual assistance through their respective examination schemes. The Institute was merely seeking recognition of its own qualification by virtue of which MIA graduates would be granted exemptions when pursuing ACCA studies overseas.

Above and below: Excerpt from the Times of Malta, 10 August 1973

The Institute’s relationship with ACCA was fully consolidated in 2003 with the establishment of the ACCA-MIA Joint Examination Scheme through which graduates obtain both an ACCA and, subject to them sitting for the local variant papers, an MIA qualification.

Foreign recognition

Coming from a small island in the hearth of the Mediterranean, the Institute always made it a point to be at the forefront of international developments and debates.

One of the Institute’s first presences in international fora came in 1975 when the President of the day, John Falzon, chaired the fifth and final technical session of the first Commonwealth Congress of Accountants in New Delhi. Mr Falzon describes his feelings on the day with the following words:

“I remember myself giving an excellent presentation that day which, to my surprise, ended up with a standing ovation. It is certainly the experience I treasure most of all my experiences as President of the Institute. Not only because my contribution was greatly appreciated, but because I felt I had truly honoured Malta, the Institute and the Maltese Accountancy Profession.”

Foreign recognition of the Institute was confirmed in 1977 when the Malta Institute of Accountants became a founder member of the International Federation of Accountants and the International Accounting Standards Committee. This membership was not only recognition of the status of the local profession but brought about the development of the adoption of International Accounting Standards and Auditing Guidelines, now International Financial Reporting Standards and International Standards on Auditing, by members of the Institute.

Local recognition of accountancy as a profession came about in 1979 with the enactment of the Accountancy Profession Act, which introduced the granting of warrant of Certified Public Accountant by the Minister of Finance. Under the Act the Institute gained statutory recognition - to date the Institute is the only body recognised under the said Act.

Another Milestone in the Institute's History is its accession as full member of the Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens (FEE). In September 1989 the Institute was approved a member body by unanimous vote at an Extraordinary General Meeting of FEE, which was convened in Brussels for that specific purpose. This was a very important development in the history of the accountancy profession in Malta and not only placed the Institute amongst the foremost organisations of the profession but put the Institute in a position to participate in the development of the profession in Europe and to respond to, and express its views on, EU directives as these are formulated.
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