In bid to address audit quality challenges in Uganda, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) has revised the accountancy practice licensing Regime.
The new developments have been revealed by ICPAU Manager, Quality Assurance and Regulation, CPA Susannie Kyamanywa.
In a survey conducted by ICPAU in August 2021, 69% of the respondents agreed with the need to review the licensing framework for practising accountants and indicated that this would help improve the quality of work.
“In response to the survey conducted and, in a bid to address the audit quality challenges, the Council of ICPAU has reviewed and approved changes in the accountancy practice licensing regime as highlighted below,” Kyamanywa revealed.
Practising accountants will now be licensed to offer services in their desired areas of accountancy but ensuring that one can demonstrate the specialised expertise for their choice.
The Council has approved two broad categories of certificates of practice. The first category permits a practising accountant to provide all types of accountancy services (including audit and assurance services). The second category of certificates of practice permits the holder to only provide non-assurance services (that is excluding audit and assurance services).
The review and changes in the licensing regime for practising accountants are intended to drive public confidence in the financial reporting value chain and promote provision of high quality accountancy services. The two broad categories are further explained below;
Certificate of Practice to provide all types of accountancy services
Applicants who intend to obtain certificates of practice that permit provision of all types of services will be required to acquire and demonstrate professional capacity, training and competence to undertake all assignments under this license.
Practising accountants licensed under this category will be assessed, at application stage and on an ongoing basis, through review of the engagements they have carried out to demonstrate the capabilities and competence needed to take up responsibility for audit and assurance engagements.
All practising accountants performing audit and assurance services are required to adhere to the highest professional, quality control and ethical standards. They will be required to ably demonstrate expertise and compliance with International Education Standard (IES) 8 – Professional Competence for Engagement Partners.
Where ICPAU discovers non-compliance with the applicable standards, the responsible practicing accountants may be restricted from the provision of audit and assurance services for a period determined by the Quality Assurance Board.
Certificate of Practice to provide non-assurance services
An applicant for certificate of practice may wish to provide only non-assurance services. In such circumstances, a certificate of practice to provide only non-assurance services will be issued.
Existing practicing accountants whose performance at quality assurance review necessitate disciplinary and/or regulatory action may be restricted from providing audit and assurance services where the QAB deems so and the Council approves it. In such circumstances, a certificate of practice to provide only non-assurance services will be issued to the affected practitioner even if that practitioner previously held a CoP for all accountancy services.
Upon implementing the revised licensing regime, it is expected that more members will be able to join accountancy practice, and this will make accountancy services more accessible to the public. The revised regime will also strengthen the accountancy profession in Uganda and ultimately improve the quality of accountancy by fostering specialization.
The reforms also bring the ICPAU licensing regime closer to the practices in other East African countries.
The new changes apply prospectively. Existing practising accountants will continue to be licensed to provide all accountancy services, except where audit quality concerns are raised, in which case the affected practitioners may be subjected to appropriate disciplinary action and restrictions.