Fresh Perspectives On Public Audit Abound -Dr. Collins Lectures Auditors At Accountants’ Week

MONROVIA – The audit profession, which decades back was a mere appendix on the national governance mosaic, has been gaining traction in recent years particularly commencing with the leadership of former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf whose first Auditor General John S. Morlu dynamited the archaic empire with his robust audit style. Since that period, which saw public and private scoundrels at odd with the Morlu version, various methodologies have emerged to ameliorate the sparked controversy and keep public audit more moderate but firm. Another perspective is up for grab by Liberians in the accounting and auditing field. One of the country’s acclaimed CPAs, Dr. Paul Columbus Collins, was at it also, breathing a fresh air in the Liberian financial accountability regime. The Analyst reports.

A Liberian accounting czar, Dr. Paul Columbus Collins, has been exciting folks in the accounting and auditing profession who had gathered at this year’s Accounting Week to look outside of the box in carrying out their duties to measure up with and changing world.

The renowned Liberian CPA particularly singled out the General Auditing Commission (GAC) and the Liberia Chartered Public Accountants (LICPA) to introduce new methods that commensurate with and meet international standards.

Speaking on the topic, Strengthening Professional Accounting Practice in Liberia—the responsibilities of the Professional Accountants on October 21, 2021 in Ganta City, Nimba County—Dr. Collins specifically called on the General Auditing Commission to stop what he called nonresident audit firms but must subcontract most of its audit operations.

The acclaimed Liberian auditor, who holds PhD in Economics and currently Senior Partner of Gedei & Associates, a LICPA licensed firm established since 2010 that provides assurance and consulting services, has recommended to the GAC that nonresident audit firms should no longer be allowed to carry out audit engagements in Liberia, as is currently the case. 

According to Ghana Fellow and Liberian Fellow, the General Auditing Commission lacks the capacity to conduct all the audits of entities and projects that fall within its mandate, and should therefore subcontract most of those audits to resident audit firms in Liberia that are member firms of the LICPA.

Dr. Collins also put the LICPA on the spot, recommending that the organization should work with universities offering courses in accountancy to develop their syllabi, commission the writing of accounting text books for the syllabi developed, conduct Training of Trainers’ seminars for accounting lecturers, then monitor the execution of the lecturing programs.

According to Dr. Collins, who is a member of the Board of Directors of Ecobank Liberia, and Chair of the Audit Committee of the Board of Directors and Member of the Credit Committee of the Board of Directors of the Bank, the implementation of the provisions of the LICPA Act of 2011, which  requires the establishment of the Quality Assurance Board of the LICPA, will see the LICPA comply fully with quality assurance programs promulgated by IFAC, the global accountancy body charged with overseeing the practice of accountancy in the world.

He also recommended that it is now time for the LICPA to transition from the use of the professional qualifying exams of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Ghana (ICAG) to LICPA’s own qualifying exams.

Dr. Collins stressed that the LICPA cannot continue to use the Ghanaian exams indefinitely, but should rather request in-country technical assistance to build the capacity of the LICPA to achieve this milestone.

Dr. Collins is a qualified Accountant and an Economist with a Master at Law degree in international commercial law.  He is credited with conceiving, launching and working with colleagues to oversee the reform of the LICPA which is now highly recognized and revered among Public Accounting Organizations (PAO) in Africa.

Dr. Collins is also credited with developing the framework documents and executing the strategy to reform the practice of internal auditing in Liberia’s public sector, which has resulted into the establishment of the Internal Audit Agency of Liberia.

His model of public sector internal auditing is currently being replicated in a number of countries in Africa, especially in the Sahel region where he has worked as a Consultant helping to establish internal audit agencies.

An experienced Central Banker who was instrumental during the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) debt waiver initiative and reforms at the Central Bank of Liberia between 2008 and 2011, Dr. Collins is also credited with pushing for the production of high quality financial statements that are compliant with international accounting standards among banks in Liberia; and the program to modernize the payment system in Liberia following the recycled cheques saga between CBL and the Ministry of Finance.

The LICPA Accountants’ Week was graced by the presence of the Presidents of the institutes of Chartered Accountants of Ghana, Nigeria and the Ivory Coast.  The President of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) also spoke to the delegates via Zoom at the commencement of the Accountants’ Week.   

An experienced lecturer at both the undergraduate and Masters’ degree program at Stella Marie Polytechnic, University of Liberia, United Methodist University, and the Financial Management Training Program (organized by the UL, GoL and the World Bank).Courses taught include Public Sector Economics, Advanced Auditing, Managerial Accounting, Advanced Accounting, and Corporate Finance.

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