Fund managers and regulated entities have been granted a one-month extension to hand in their audited annual financial statements due to a pandemic-related bean-counter deficit.
In a statement, the Financial Markets Authority (FMA) says it would offer “temporary relief to give some businesses additional time to comply with certain regulatory reporting requirements, in response to a shortage of auditors in New Zealand”.
“Relief is being provided through a ‘no-action’ approach that gives eligible entities affected by the auditor shortage a one-month extension to file their audited financial statements and comply with certain related reporting deadlines and other audits or assurance engagements,” the FMA says. “The relief is available for eligible entities with balance dates between 31 March 2021 and 31 December 2021, and some conditions apply. Entities will still need to prepare financial statements within the usual 4-month timeframe.”
The regulator offered a two-month reporting waiver to licensed fund managers and others last year amid the peak COVID disruption.
But while day-to-day life in NZ has returned to almost-normal conditions, ongoing border closures have hit a number of industries reliant on specialised staff with financial services, surprisingly, among them.
“We understand the New Zealand audit industry usually depends on sourcing experienced audit staff from overseas. Due to the COVID-19 border restrictions, overseas recruitment has ceased since March 2020,” the FMA statement says. “Accordingly, this relief is needed because of a shortage of skilled and experienced senior audit staff in New Zealand.”
Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi has come under intense pressure in recent weeks to relax the visa process, especially from the NZ agricultural sector that is dependent on offshore workers.
Under discretionary powers, the government has allowed some specialised workers into the country – including film crew and dairy-herd managers – but the border bottleneck has left many business sectors frustrated.
Faafoi told media earlier this month: “Border restrictions continue to be a critical part of the government’s strategy to protect New Zealand against Covid-19. Exceptions have been made, where and when possible, for a range of reasons, including humanitarian, to reunite families, support New Zealand’s economic recovery, and to ensure sufficient skills, experience and talent are available.
“When deciding on exceptions, the government has balanced those sorts of objectives together with the needs of many sectors; as well as being mindful of the impacts class border exceptions may put on New Zealand’s Covid-19 testing, managed isolation and quarantine capacities.”
And, for now it seems auditors must wait in the queue behind key-grips and cow-hands.