The idea of forming a sub-regional body of accountancy institutes of the Indian Sub-continent was mooted by then President of ICAI, Mr Ashok Kumbhat, at the 3rd National Conference of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka held in December 1982. He put forth the rationale behind the proposition as the common heritage and culture of the constituent nations of the South Asian Region and similarities in their trade practices, legal systems and economic conditions.
As a major step towards the development of co-ordinated accountancy profession in the South Asian Region, a sub-regional body namely the South Asian Federation of Accountants (SAFA) was formed in August 1984 at a meeting of the heads of professional accountancy bodies in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, held at New Delhi.
The Constitution of the newly formed Federation laid down its following objectives:
To coordinate and guide efforts to evolve technical, ethical and educational guidelines within the region;
To work towards international recognition of qualifications of accountancy bodies of the region;
To provide opportunities for consultations such as the holding of Conferences of accountants within the region to enable members of the accountancy profession to discuss and interchange ideas and to inform themselves of developments in accounting and related matters;
To encourage and assist the development of national accountancy organisation within the region; and
To arrange exchange programs for students and teachers so as to expand training opportunities.
Mr P. N. Shah, the then President of ICAI and Mr L. R. Watawala, the then President of ICASL were elected as the first President and Vice President, of the Federation for 1984 and 1985. The headquarter of SAFA for that year was decided to be located in ICAI’s headquarter at New Delhi. Dr Kamal Gupta, the then Technical Director of ICAIe, was appointed as the Secretary of SAFA.
The conventions that the Vice President will assume Presidency in the next year and that the Vice President will be elected from different countries by rotation every year were embraced. Thus, the responsibility of developing SAFA has been shared by different countries and by different accounting bodies in those countries.
The following accounting bodies from various countries were the founder members:
1. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Bangladesh (ICAB)
2. The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Bangladesh (ICMAB)
3. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI)
4. The Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI)
5. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan (ICAP)
6. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (ICASL)
Since Nepal did not have any accounting Institute, the Association of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ACAN) was
made an Observer. The Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nepal (ICAN) was admitted as a member after it was formed in 1997.
The first formal meeting of the Assembly (Governing Council) of SAFA was held at Karachi in May 1985.
The First Conference of South Asian Federation of Accountants was held in Sri Lanka from December 4 to 7, 1985. The theme of the Conference, viz. “Accountancy Profession: Prospectives and Prospects” sought to underline the current status of the profession and probe into its future prospects, particularly in the context of the changing economic and technological environment in the South Asian Region. More than 300 delegates from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal attended the Conference.
Today, SAFA runs it own website, publishes its own newsletter and amongst other activities, has also on hand and aggressive program to assume its natural role within the SAARC family of organisations. SAARC conferred the status of a Recognised Body upon SAFA in the year 1998. The status was elevated from a Recognised Body to an Apex Body as decided at the meeting of Council of Ministers of SAARC concluded in January 2002. SAFA now also enjoys the status of a Regional Grouping of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), a conglomerate of 163 member bodies in 119 countries.