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Ugandan economy needs more accountants – experts

COVID-19 pandemic hit student enrolled for accountants’ proficiency courses

Kampala, Uganda | JULIUS BUSINGE | Uganda will need more professionals including accountants as the economy expands, according to the top executives at the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda.

The executives, who spoke during the release of the Institute’s examinations results for the December 2020 diet via zoom, said businesses and entities operating in the economic space badly need qualified accountants to advise them on critical accounting standards that are key to grow their operations that then feed into the general economy.

Currently, Uganda has slightly over 4, 000 professional accountants, of which, 3, 995 have qualified from ICPA-U since the start of the Institute in early1990s.

“Qualified accountants give business operators strategic advice and come up with astute ways to save money, boost revenue,” said ICPAU President, Frederick Kibeddi (CPA).

“Qualified accountants are also known for removing or automating administrative tasks that distract core business in addition to defining a direction for a business by giving owners the much needed confidence to grow.”

Kibeddi said 109 accountants completed their Certified Public Accountant (CPA) course last year, and are ready to apply the acquired skills to businesses and the economy.

He commended training schools, students and teachers for making time and taking exams amidst COVID-19 pandemic disruption.

“Majority of our candidates are between 18-28 years of age…meaning they are very good value addition to the economy,” Kibeddi said.

Meanwhile, Kibeddi said COVID-19 has exposed digitisation as a tool that will create opportunities for businesses and the economy to operate without necessarily having to meet physically.

The results

Twaha Kaawaase (CPA), the acting chairperson for the Public Accountants Examinations Board (PAEB), an arm for ICPA-U that handles examinations, said the examinations were conducted for five days from Dec.18-22 at all the examinations centres in Arua, Fort Portal, Gulu, Kampala, Mbale, Mbarara, Mbale and Nkozi.

A total of 4,453 candidates attempted examinations in 2020 compared to 16,888 candidates in 2019.

A total of 151 candidates sat for the December 2020 examinations for Accounting Technicians Diploma (ATD) examinations compared to 225 in November 2019.  The average pass rate was 45.5% compared to 43.3% in November 2019.

For Certified Tax Advisor (CTA) examinations, a total of 58 candidates sat for the December 2020 examinations compared to 110 who sat in November 2019.

The average pass rate was 41.2% compared to 45.7% in November 2019.

Meanwhile, a total of 4,244 candidates sat for Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (CPA) examinations in the December 2020 examinations compared to 6,181 who sat in November 2019.

There was a slight improvement in the average pass rate. It moved from 31.2% in November 2019 to 32.2% in December 2020. A total of 109 candidates completed the CPA course in December 2020 compared to 128 in November 2019.

2020 tough year

Kaawaase said the year 2020 was unprecedented in the history of the Institute’s examinations calendar in that the lockdown in March 2020 found them at the height of preparing for May 2020 examinations.

“We kept on postponing and hoping that the situation would normalize,” he said, adding that when the situation remained unfavourable, they eventually ended up with only one examinations diet conducted in December 2020.

Normally, the institute conducts two examinations diets for the Accounting Technicians Diploma (ATD) and Certified Tax Advisor (CTA) courses in May and November and three diets for the Certified Public Accountants (CPA) course in May, August and November.

But due to disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic, the number of candidates significantly dropped to the lowest level as the Institute ensured strict adherence to the COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).

The Institute, which had planned to roll out new syllabuses for ATD, CTA and CPA in 2020, has now extended to 2022.

Going forward, in line with mitigating the disruptions of COVID-19, Kaawaase said, they plan to have four examinations diets for CPA to enable the students to recover some lost time.

These diets will be in March, June, September and December 2021.    There will be two examinations diets for ATD and CTA in June and December 2021.

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