Botswana Institute of Chartered Accountants
Member | Established: 1990 | Member since 1984
BICA was established in 1990 following the adoption of the Accountants Act 1988, which has subsequently been repealed and replaced by the Accountants Act 2010, as the body responsible for regulating the accountancy profession under the oversight of the Botswana Accountant Oversight Authority. The BICA is a mandatory membership organization comprising auditors, accountants, and firms. The institute’s responsibilities are to: (i) establish, develop, and implement the Botswana Professional Accountancy Qualification; (ii) establish and monitor compliance with initial professional development and continuing professional development requirements; (iii) oversee professional examinations; (iv) implement an quality assurance review system for Non-Audit Member Firms who are not Certified Auditors; (v) establish and publish of a Code of Ethics in line with the IESBA’s Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants; (vi) investigate and discipline members for professional misconduct; and (vii) maintain registers of professional accountants, distinguishing between practicing certificate and non-practicing certificate holders, and member firms.
In addition to being a member of IFAC, BICA is a member of the Pan African Federation of Accountants.
Statements of Membership Obligation (SMO)
The Statements of Membership Obligations form the basis of the IFAC Member Compliance Program. They serve as a framework for credible and high-quality professional accountancy organizations focused on serving the public interest by adopting, or otherwise incorporating, and supporting implementation of international standards and maintaining adequate enforcement mechanisms to ensure the professional behavior of their individual members.
SMO 1: Quality Assurance
With the passage of the Financial Reporting Act 2010, the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) was established and authorized to conduct quality assurance (QA) reviews the audits of public interest entities (PIEs). By law, the BICA is responsible for QA reviews of non-PIEs; however, per a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between BICA and the BAOA in 2014, the BAOA now undertakes reviews of non-PIE Certified Auditors and recommend a course of action to BICA based upon results. The MoU was renewed in 2018 for another two-year period or until revisions to legislation are passed which clearly state that the BAOA is responsible for all QA reviews. The BAOA and BICA are collaborating to facilitate the timely resolution of revisions to the legislation in Parliament. According to publicly available information and the BICA, the BAOA’s QA review system is in line with the SMO 1 best practices.
BICA continues its ongoing efforts to raise awareness and educate its members about QA and encourages compliance with ISQC 1. BICA assists members in improving audit quality using the results of the practice reviews and offers training on undergoing practice reviews and on how to address weaknesses identified during reviews for its members. Additionally, BICA collaborated with Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales, as part of a World Bank-sponsored twinning arrangement, to produce an audit manual for small and medium-sized practices (SMPs) and to provide training.
Beginning in 2018, BICA introduced ISQC 1 and QA reviews for member firms providing accountancy services (non-audit) and provided training on the standards. Furthermore, as of 2018, as per amendments to the Financial Intelligence Act (FIA), the BICA is now a supervisory authority for Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Countering the Financing of Terrorism and Arms of War Proliferation (CFTP). Accordingly, BICA has introduced an inspection program amongst members firms related to AML/CFTP responsibilities. Throughout 2016—2018, BICA carried out a series of outreach, training, awareness raising events on AML/CFTP responsibilities for firms and BICA’s inspection program. It also developed a guidance manual for member firms to support compliance with their businesses. In the latter half of 2019, the institute plans to conduct an AML risk assessment for the accountancy sector.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
In accordance with the Accountants Act 2010, the BICA may set specific initial and continuing professional development (IPD and CPD respectively) for professional accountants under the oversight of the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA), which was created by the Financial Reporting Act 2010.
BICA has undertaken several initiatives to ensure that national accountancy education requirements are aligned with the 2015 IES requirements. BICA has established Botswana’s Professional Accountancy Qualification (BPAQ) which utilizes the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales’ (ICAEW) materials except for a module on Botswana’s tax and business law. The institute indicates that it regularly conducts Train the Trainer programs and engages with tuition providers of accounting degrees that qualify students for entry into the BPAQ to ensure that their programming remains aligned with the BICA’s curriculum and IES. For example, BICA is represented in the Botswana Accountancy College’s Council with three members and there are academia representatives on BICA’s Education and Training Committee. BICA will organize annual examiners’ feedback sessions for trainers to spur a forum and dialogue between lecturers and examiners on any improvements that need to be in teaching the material and helping lecturers understand how their students will ultimately be assessed.
BICA runs its own examinations and provides a multitude of resources for students on its website. These include past exams and sample papers. As of 2018, BICA indicates that a new nationwide development regarding professional qualifications is underway. All professional qualifications are to be accredited based on the National Credit and Qualifications Framework (NCQF) implemented by the Botswana Qualifications Authority (BQA). BICA has been accredited as a Technical and Vocational Education and Training Provider for ten certificates related to accountancy education and is also qualified to accredit other training providers. The institute plans to intensify its monitoring of other accredited tuition providers from quarterly reviews to monthly reviews to ensure that providers are utilizing the accredited lecturers and material.
After passing the examinations, students must complete three years of practical experience with an Authorized Training Employer (ATEs) and demonstrate that they have learned necessary competencies. BICA has accredited ATEs that students need to complete their training experience with. Students and the ATE sign a training agreement that outlines the commitments from both parties regarding the student’s learning and development. Additionally, all students must complete a minimum of a year and half of Technical Work Experience (TWE) during the training agreement which means undertaking “real work” of a financial, business, or commercial nature. All students must have a review meeting with their qualified person responsible for training (QPRT) at least once every six months to review progress and identify any additional support needed. BICA itself will also conduct reviews of the ATE as part of retaining its accreditation status. As of December 2018, there were 405 students pursuing the BPAQ.
Once a member of BICA, individuals must complete CPD obligations of 40 hours per year. Members must submit CPD returns and the Education and Training Committee will review a sample basis and request evidence of CPD fulfillment. Any issues of non-compliance are referred to its Disciplinary Committee. Beginning in 2017, Accounting Technician members are also required to submit CPD returns as part of preparing them for the CPD obligations of a Certified Professional Accountant. The institute offers a variety of CPD throughout the calendar year in addition to CPD awareness workshops.
BICA has demonstrated commendable progress in enhancing its educational and practical experience requirements to align with 2015 IES which emphasize competency-based learning. In 2019, newly revised IES address learning and development for information and communications technologies (ICT) and professional skepticism. As market expectation increases for ICT skills and professional skepticism, these standards were developed to address the competencies, skills, and behaviors for both aspiring and professional accountants in these critical areas. These revised standards become effective January 2021. The requirements may require changes to accountancy education programming and the institute is encouraged to begin reviewing and planning for the incorporation of these requirements.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
With the passage of the Financial Reporting Act 2010, the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) to adopt, issue, and keep up-to-date auditing standards that are consistent with international best practice. The BAOA has adopted ISA as issued by the IAASB including effective date.
Prior to this, BICA was responsible for setting auditing standards and had adopted and supported the implementation of ISA, which are required by law, on an ongoing basis. However, now, BICA focuses on supporting implementation and compliance amongst its members. The institute offers training and hosts an annual update workshop on ISA in addition to disseminating resources via email, its website, and its technical bulletin with any emphasis on any new developments. Additionally, BICA has strengthened its institutional and technical capacity by hiring a Technical Director and Director of Training and Professional Development. Its Technical Director serves as a member of the BAOA Standard Setters Committee to ensure open communication and collaboration. The institute’s own Technical Committee shares and responds to exposure drafts issued by the IAASB.
As part of its collaboration with the BAOA and supporting up-to-date standards’ adoption, BICA is encouraged to share proposed revisions to the quality management standards, for firms and audit engagement teams. The revisions significantly change how firms manage quality and will likely require increased effort for most firms.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
BICA is empowered by the Accountants Act 2010 to establish a Code of Ethics for professional accountants that is aligned with the IESBA Code of Ethics. The institute reports that it was an early adopter of the 2018 International Code of Ethics when it was issued by the IESBA in April 2018. BICA’s members that are auditors of public interest entities are also subject to the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA)’s issuance of ethical requirements. The BAOA has adopted the Code of Ethics as issued by the IESBA since it became operational in 2016.
BICA is committed to ensuring that students and members understand and adhere to the ethical requirements set out in the Code. Students must complete a Structured Training on Ethics (STE) as part of pursuing the qualification offered by BICA. There are three levels of ethics training within the STE program, which is based on interactive case studies, scenarios and self-test questions that are designed to develop professional ethics.
Once individuals are members of BICA, they are required to remain up-to-date on professional ethics topics. This is reinforced in members’ continuing professional development (CPD) returns in which they must confirm they have read through the Code of Ethics. BICA offers CPD training and workshops on the Code Ethics; for example, BICA notes that it offered training and circulated guidance notes to members regarding compliance with the NOCLAR standard.
Most recently, in February 2019, BICA launched an Ethics Hotline for use by members and the public to report individuals and firms offering any accountancy services without being properly registered with BICA. The Ethics Hotline can also be used by members and the public to report any cases of misconduct by professional accountants. The hotline is managed by an intendent, external specialist provider who will submit matters to BICA for any investigative or disciplinary follow-up and the provider will then relay feedback to the complainant.
Overall, BICA indicates it has noticed a general increase in awareness of the ethics standards, especially as the volume of ethical queries to BICA from the members have increased. More members are now referring their ethical dilemmas for advice and guidance to the institute.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
The Botswanan Government is the standard-setter for public sector accounting. The Financial Reporting Act 2010 requires adherence to IPSAS and BICA indicates that the government has adopted modified cash-basis standards using IPSAS as a reference point and intends to transition to accrual-basis IPSAS with a target date of 2023.
BICA is active in supporting the government’s objective of adopting accrual-basis IPSAS and supporting the professionalization of public sector accountants and eventual implementation of the standards. BICA established a Public Sector Committee, which comprises key stakeholders from the government, to help lead the transition to accrual-basis IPSAS and it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Accountant General’s Office. Furthermore, after hiring a new Technical Director, Public Sector, it has developed a Public Sector Curriculum that is intended to support short-term courses to capacitate public sector accountants and government staff. The curriculum was reviewed by the International Monetary Fund, Pan African Federation of Accountants, and Organisation of English-speaking African Supreme Audit Institutions. As of July 2019, two universities that have recently launched degree programs in public sector accounting worked with BICA to review the curriculum to align content with that of BICA’s.
Additionally, BICA’s new Technical Director and CEO, respectively, have joined a Project Advisory Committee and Project Implementation Committee for the government’s Accruals Accounting Conversion Project to provide technical support. These activities, in addition to circulating information when issued by the IPSASB, are a part of BICA’s own roadmap for supporting the government’s objectives and aligns with the government’s framework for moving to accrual-basis IPSAS.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
In accordance with the Financial Reporting Act 2010 and the Accountants Act 2010, the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) and the BICA are both authorized to investigate and discipline (I&D) professional accountants. The BAOA I&D procedures are for Certified Auditors of public interest entities (PIEs) while the BICA may investigate and discipline its other categories of members (i.e. auditors of non-PIEs and professionals providing accounting services) for professional misconduct, as well as for violations or breaches of its codes, rules, and standards.
The BAOA and BICA have renewed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) whereby BAOA will forward quality assurance (QA) review results of auditors of non-PIEs along with a recommendation on to BICA for its final decision. As a result, BICA has linked its I&D system with the BAOA’s QA reviews to further investigate and discipline certified auditors of non-PIEs.
BICA indicates that since the passage of the Accountants Act 2010 it has taken steps to strengthen its I&D mechanisms to meet SMO 6 best practices. These include changing the composition of the Disciplinary Committee (i.e. removing the dominance of Council and introducing an independent chairperson with a legal background) and establishing an Appeals Committee. In 2018, new rules related to I&D were passed to align with SMO 6 best practices, the Accountants Act 2010, and clarify implementation procedures. From 2016 to date, BICA’s Disciplinary Committee has handled 17 cases ranging from non-compliance with CPD to non-compliance with the Code of Ethics.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
The Companies Act 2003 stipulates that a public company and non-exempt private companies are to use IFRS for the preparation of their financial reporting. Non-listed companies that are not financial institutions, and that meet the requirements for exemption, are permitted to use IFRS for SMEs. Subsequently, the Financial Reporting Act 2010 established the Botswana Accountancy Oversight Authority (BAOA) with the authority to adopt, issue, and keep up-to-date financial reporting standards for public interest entities (PIEs), and ensure that they are consistent with the IFRS and interpretations issued by the International Accounting Standards Board. The BAOA has adopted all IFRS as issued by the IASB.
Prior to the Financial Reporting Act 2010, BICA was responsible for setting accounting standards and had adopted IFRS on an ongoing basis since 2007. At the date of this assessment, BICA reports to concentrate on providing quality implementation support to ensure members’ understanding and compliance with the applicable standards.
The institute’s qualification examination includes sections on financial accounting and reporting. It also offers members regular training and CPD on IFRS and IFRS for SMEs and has prepared implementation guidance in the form of pro forma financial statements. Additionally, BICA has strengthened its institutional and technical capacity by hiring a Technical Director and Director of Training and Professional Development. With the new staff support, BICA has been issuing monthly technical bulletins that includes updates and changes to international accounting standards to ensure that members remain up-to-date. The Technical Director also serves as a member of the BAOA Standard Setters Committee to ensure open communication and collaboration. Meanwhile, the institute’s own Technical Committee shares and responds to exposure drafts issued by the IASB.
Finally, BICA serves on the African Integrated Reporting Committee and chairs the Botswana Integrated Reporting Committee which was launched in August 2018 to promote the adoption of amongst companies in Botswana.
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