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Introduction - Objective

The Statement on Peer Review lays down the objective of review as under:

'2.1 The main objective of Peer Review is to ensure that in carrying out their professional attestation services assignments, the members of the Institute (a) comply with the Technical Standards laid down by the Institute and (b) have in place proper systems (including documentation systems) for maintaining the quality of the attestation services work they perform.'

In view of the above, the reviewer may note that the primary objective of peer review is not to find out deficiencies but to improve the quality of services rendered by members of the profession. In the same vein, the Statement also makes it clear that peer review, "does not seek to redefine the scope and authority of the Technical Standards specified by the Council but seeks to enforce them within the parameters prescribed by the Technical Standards". The peer review is directed towards maintenance as well as enhancement of quality of attestation services and to provide guidance to members to improve their performance and adherence to various statutory and other regulatory requirements. Such an objective of the peer review process makes it amply clear that the reviewer is not going to sit on the judgement of the practice unit while rendering attestation services but to evaluate the procedure followed by the practice unit in rendering such a service. Accordingly, where a practice unit is not following technical standards, the reviewers are expected to recommend measures to improve the procedures. Therefore, the objective is to maintain and enhance the quality of attestation services by providing appropriate guidelines rather than simply pointing out deficiencies and penalising the practice unit. To elaborate further, a key objective of peer review exercise is not to identify isolated cases of engagement failure, but to identify weaknesses that are pervasive and chronic in nature. For instance, absence of formal planning on an audit represents a serious deficiency that needs to be remedied by the practice unit. An instance of the auditor not carrying out physical verification of furniture and fixture may not attract the same comment. However, certain items of assets are best verified through the physical verification process and not adopting the same may rightly be viewed as a systemic failure. The conclusion, therefore, is that the peer review seeks to identify and address patterns of non-compliance with quality control standards

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