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Accountants Body Prepares Crackdown on "Non-Professional Practitioners"

A professional accountant is one who has taken and completed a course in one of the internationally accredited professional accountancy bodies. To receive the practising certificate, one has to register as a full member of a body recognized by the government like, in the case of Uganda, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, ICPAU.

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Persons employed in the Public Service Sector as senior accountants or auditors could find themselves in trouble if they do not have professional accountancy qualifications or a practising certificate.

A professional accountant is one who has taken and completed a course in one of the internationally accredited professional accountancy bodies. To receive the practising certificate, one has to register as a full member of a body recognized by the government like, in the case of Uganda, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda, ICPAU.

ICPAU was established by the Accountants Act of 1992 which was replaced by the Accountants Act 2013, which gave the institute the mandate to license and delicense accountants, as well as offer professional qualification courses.

According to the law, the senior positions in accountancy and auditing in central government and local government departments, parastatals and regulated organisations, are supposed to be held by a professional accountant and members of ICPAU. The private regulated institutions targeted also include those in the financial, media and legal sectors.

However, it is common practice for these organisations to employers holder of higher Diploma or Degrees, which the President of ICPAU, Constant Othieno Mayende, says is wrong, adding that they will soon launch enforcement because such organisations have not heeded the notices given them.

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The institute also cautioned qualified and practising accountants that what they are taught in class are implemented in the field, including enforcing ethics. Those that violate this are delicensed and cannot be hired as professional accountants.

However, the body also helps the members to stay up-to-date with new developments so as not to be found on the opposite side of the law, according to the Chairperson of the Public Accountancy Examination Board, Geoffrey Byamugisha.

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Some of the previously de-licensed accountants include those who were employed in some of the commercial banks that have been closed down over management issues. Uganda has about 4000 professional accountants.

Meanwhile, ICPAU released examinations results of 4,162 accountancy students who sat in December 2021, indicating an average pass rate of 51.2 per cent, compared to the 60 per cent pass rate recorded from October 2021 sitting. However, it was an improvement from the same sitting a year ago (December 2020), when 4,453 candidates sat and registered a 45.5 per cent average pass rate.

The Institute examines three categories of candidates, and in this diet, there were 3,974 Certified Public Accountancy-CPA, 72 Certified Tax Advisor and 126 Accounting Technicians (the lower level qualification in accountancy). While the December 2020 candidates were disrupted by the cOVID-19 pandemic in preparation, Byamugisha says this time the students seemed not to have noticed the limited time they had to prepare between October ad December.   

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But for CPA, the high failure rate is usually attributed to the fact that most of the students are fresh from high school and therefore at the time of the exam, they have not yet grasped the importance of the course and the exam. But the Certified Tax Advisor students are largely persons in full employment, and therefore find limited time to prepare for the exam, according to the institute.

Nevertheless, Byamugisha says the standard of the profession cannot be compromised and that while the institute will do everything to equip the student with the knowledge, the standard of exams will stay high.

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In the Accounting Technicians Diploma, out of the 131 papers passed, female candidates passed 60.3 of them, while for the male candidates, it was a 39.7 pass rate. The results show that the female candidates clearly outperformed their male counterparts with 11 top candidates compared to 3 males.

The board hopes that the subsequent sittings will produce better results with the Covid-19 measures being eased. The board has planned to conduct four examinations diet; March, June, September and December, and it hopes this provides a good opportunity and flexibility on the part of the candidates. 

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