MONROVIA: In its bid to strengthen the accounting profession and add standard in line with international accounting bodies, the Liberia Institute of Chartered Public Accountants (LICPA) on Friday, September 29, 2023 signed a Memorandum of Understanding(MOU) with the South Africa based African Professionalization Initiative(API) to provide education and professional training to accountants in the public sector and interested students who intend to become professional accountants in the future.
At a brief but colorful ceremony held at the Victor SBK Tanwone House, which is the National Secretariat of LICPA in Congo Town, Monrovia, participants, majority of whom were top and middle level public sector accountants, representatives of professional bodies and other stakeholders, expressed excitement and willingness to be part of the opportunities being provided by the collaboration between LICPA and API.
In his welcome remarks, the Executive Director/CEO of LICPA, Hector J. Wuor said it was a happy moment to welcome the participants to witness the signing ceremony of one of the greatest opportunities provided by this arrangement “for us as a nation and as an institution because if a country has to be prosperous, it has to start with the people who live in that country”
He said the arrangement will impact the working people as well as students who may even work as interns under the API arrangement and the LICPA is excited about the initiative. He said as a background information about the program coming to Liberia, credit should be given to the Auditor General of Liberia P. Garswa Jackson who got to know about API and decided to introduce it to stakeholders and was happy for the arrangement to be finalized.
In his presentation, the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of API, Evans Mulera said he was excited that the signing ceremony was taking place in Liberia after several discussions between LICPA and API and expressed hope that the program will become successful.
He historicized that discussion for the program started in Gambia at the African Auditor General Conference held in May, 2022 when he had a meeting with the Auditor General of Liberia P. Garswa Jackson and the Comptroller and Accountant General Janga Kowo both of whom told him that “we hope this is not another long talkshow that may not lead to anything.
He said “the consistency exhibited by them and Mr. Tanwone, the President of LICPA fast tracked the process and today I am pleased to be in Monrovia to sign the MOU which will finalize our arrangement”
“Your commitment to education aligns with the AU Charter on values and principles on public service administration which emphasizes the need to invest in education and professionalization if we are to achieve the goal of transforming the lives of the people on the continent in line with the AU 2063 agenda”, he said.
He said the API is a partnership between accountants general, supreme audit institutions and professional accountancy organizations (PAOs) across the continent, the goal of which is to “grow the capacity of professional accountants and auditors who are equipped to support accountability, transparency and good governance in the public sector.”
He also said that the African public sector has a significant shortage of professional accountants and auditors. He further said that those working in government have typically been exposed to private sector theory during their initial professional development, which can result in a lack of understanding of public sector complexities and expectations. Without sufficient, appropriately trained professional accountants, African states are vulnerable to exploitation and corruption.
The Kenyan born accountant further stated that the API addresses the need by “setting the benchmark for public accounting and auditing professionals in Africa and providing the tools to turn this benchmark into reality.” To date, the API has developed a competency framework and an accelerated learning curriculum for public sector financial management staff. These initiatives form the foundations for the current project.
Checks by The Analyst revealed that the learning project API undertakes with various accounting bodies is funded by the UK Department for International Development through the IFAC Capacity Building Program. The project produces an online learning course for experienced individuals working in public financial management (PFM) who do not have a professional accountancy background.
This learning content, which covers the essentials of public sector accountancy, are offered to PAOs and governments to enable them to enhance the skills and knowledge of individuals working in the public sector.
“PAOs will be able to use the course content to create an accelerated pathway to an accountancy designation for their public sector members and partner with the API to implement the course in their countries. They will also be able to add local modules to the course content to provide a bespoke, seamless learning experience that merges international standards and best practices with locally-relevant learning content. The course will be globally-accessible, delivering learning materials via an online platform”, information provided by API on its website stated.
Further information about the API learning has it that it was developed by a partner to API, IASeminars which is an international accounting training company offering training in a range of subjects including IFRS, US GAAP, IPSAS, Public Financial Management, Management Accounting and Banking Regulation, IASeminars offers training in public courses and in-house training event as well as online. IASeminars also provides development services for online courses designed to be interactive and engaging on all devices including low-bandwidth mobile devices
Mr. Evans said API over the years has successfully worked with its partners to enhance its activities and name four of the partners by acronym, AFROSAI-E, CREFIAF, AAAG and PAFA
He said AFROSAI-E is a member-based institution with 26 Auditors-General from English-speaking African countries making up our Governing Board. The organization was established in 2005 with the shared vision to make a difference in the performance of our member Supreme Audit Institutions (SAIs).
“CREFIAF is a member-based organisation for SAIs in French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa, which was established in Yaoundé, Cameroon in 1997, with the aim of building capacity in the 23 SAIs of French-speaking sub-Saharan Africa. CREFIAF intends to be a catalyst for the promotion of independent and professional SAIs capable of contributing to transparency, a culture of accountability and the performance of public action for the well-being of citizens.
“The African Association of Accountants General (AAAG) is a member based capacity building non profit organisation that aspires to build accountability and governance capabilities in the Offices of the Accountants and Directors General who are responsible for budget execution and reporting for their governments. It currently has thirteen members.
“PAFA‘s main objective is to facilitate the accountancy profession working through strategic partnerships in influencing policies that enable the utilisation of resources for the benefit of Africa’s citizens to achieve socio – economic transformation. It is a non-profit organisation which is currently made up of fifty-five (55) Professional Accountancy Organizations (PAOs) from forty-four (44) countries”, Mr. Mulera said.
Mr. Victor SBK Tanwone, President of LICPA said when the idea of partnership with API came up, he realized that the API aligns with the vision of LICPA to strengthen the accounting profession and “when I looked at it, I said it is an initiative that we need to take and run with it.
“It is a big achievement for Liberia and I want to encourage those in the public sector to take this as a stepping stone because, it is a professional program with its own package. Those who are going to complete this program are going to come into it as members on special category. The CAG and AG have given us the assurance that staff from the public sector and students are going to be admitted to the program and that funding was going to be made available.
“We made several sacrifices and we want for you to take it as a vision for some of you that want to be chartered accountants, it is a globally recognized initiative that you will be embarking on and if you are a certified public sector accountant it is as good as a CPA because the international accounting bodies acknowledge it. It will be something that will be spread throughout Africa and I will want some of you who are serious to become certified accountants or auditors should take advantage.
Delivering the keynote address at the program, the Head of auditing at the Central Bank of Liberia, Andrew S. Jallah Jr, who represented the Governor of the Central Bank of Liberia, J. Aloysius Tarlue congratulated LICPA on the historic signing of the MOU that will seek to professionalize accounting disciple with emphasis on public sector accounting and said as a statutory member of LICPA, the CBL will provide support for the realization of the objective of the program
He said it is hope that accountants already working in the public sector, the current accouunti student and the academic community will take advantage of this and see it as a great opportunity to enroll into it and get the benefits associated with it. He noted that there have been a lot of test in the past “but this one is going to revolutionize the profession”
“While we celebrate this landmark signing, we want to admonish the LICPA through its president, Mr. Victor S. Tanwone, that following through the implementation of this MOU is very important so that Liberians can benefit”, he said.
The Comptroller and Accountant General of Liberia, Janga Kowo who was one of the architects of the program to be brought to Liberia said the signing ceremony represented the resolve they put in the process after the back and forth discussion. He said the commitment he attached to the process was in line with the government’s policy to create an enabling environment for learning of new skills and building the capacity of accountants and auditors in the public sector.
He used the occasion to inform the audience about the progress made over the years to improve on public Financial Management , stressing that as of two years, the government under the leadership of President George Manneh Weah has been able for the first time submit audit reports of government on time.
For his part, the Deputy Auditor General of Liberia, Winsley S. Nanka who deputized his boss, P. Garswa Jackson, said the training of accountants in the public sector was key to controlling waste and corruption in government as well as prudently managing scare resources for the state. He urged stakeholders to take advantage of the opportunities being offered and strive to be professional in all their dealings.
At the end of the program, the MOU was formally signed by Messers Tanwone, Kowo, Nanka and Mulera.