THE Hong Kong Society of Accountants (HKSA) plans to go it alone - setting up independent examinations for accountants and its own benchmarks for Hong Kong practitioners. The HKSA released a consultation paper yesterday - Into the 21st Century - setting out proposals for accounting examinations and accreditation in the next century. This meant the HKSA would not renew a joint scheme agreement with the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (ACCA). 'The HKSA considers that the way forward is to have its own independent examination targeted at graduate entry,' the consultation paper said. 'Only degree graduates from courses offered by tertiary institutions and accredited by the society will be eligible to sit the examination of four to six papers.' Graduates without an accounting background would be required to undertake prescribed 'conversion courses' before they could sit the examinations, HKSA president Nicholas Etches said. Graduates without a degree, but with basic accountancy training would be offered 'foundation courses', Mr Etches said. The society's deadline for its first independent examination is December 1999. Mr Etches said the society expected to stop registering entrants for the Joint Scheme on March 1, 1999, and then start registering for the independent examination. He said the society would set up its independent Accountancy Accreditation Board to accredit and recognise Hong Kong and overseas academic and professional qualifications from registering students and for admitting members to the society. Under the proposals outlined yesterday, the society planned to draw up its own competency standards for professional accountants to suit the Hong Kong environment. 'Special emphasis will be placed on subject areas of particular relevance and importance to Hong Kong,' the society said in papers released yesterday. 'In this regard, particular attention will be given to developments and requirements in the region - particularly those in China - information technology, ethics, management skills and communication skills in both English and Chinese.' Based in an international metropolis and one of the world's most important financial centres, the HKSA would see to it that professional accountants would have internationally transferable knowledge and skills. 'The society will seek endorsement of its independent examination scheme from accounting experts of international standing,' the HKSA said.