Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda
Associate | Established: 2008 | Associate since 2012
iCPAR was established under the Law on the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (iCPAR) No. 11 of 2008 (iCPAR Law 2008) with the mandate to regulate the accountancy profession in Rwanda. iCPAR confers two designations for its members: Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Accounting Technician (CAT) depending on their course of study. iCPAR membership is mandatory for CPAs, and only CPAs may conduct audits.
In accordance with Article 7 of iCPAR Law 2008, iCPAR is responsible for: (i) providing members with professional education in accountancy and related fields; (ii) advising on curricula for any accountancy courses; (iii) developing teaching programs to organize examinations and issuing certificates in matters relating to the accounting profession; (iv) establishing continuing professional development requirements; (v) issuing and promoting the implementation of accounting and auditing standards in the public and private sector; (vi) advising the government on matters relating to the profession; (vii) setting ethical requirements for members; (viii) issuing license of exercising the accounting profession to qualifying members requesting such license and withdrawing it in case of misconduct; (ix) operating a quality assurance review system for all audits; and (x) taking disciplinary measures against members.
In addition to being an IFAC Associate, iCPAR 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
iCPAR has a legal responsibility for establishing a quality assurance (QA) review system and, in collaboration with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and with funding support from the Investment Facility for Utilising UK Specialist Expertise—DFID, carried out a pilot phase of its Audit Quality Assurance (AQA) review program in September 2015. Audit firms and practitioners will be able to use these initial assessments as a foundation for future QA reviews and improvements. Subsequently, during 2017–2018, iCPAR recruited a Professional Development Services Director and a Quality and Development Manager to run the AQA going forward with the support of the ACCA. iCPAR expects to conduct its first formal AQA cycle in 2019. iCPAR indicates that the AQA will meet the SMO 1 requirements once operational.
iCPAR notes that public expectations and trust in the institute is growing at an exceptional rate and stakeholders, such as the Central Bank of Rwanda, have requested that iCPAR strengthen its AQA system to enhance the quality of firms’ work. As part of the AQA reviews in 2019, its Quality and Development Manager and QA review team are expected to develop their capacity through knowledge and skills transfer from the ACCA team. The institute is preparing to conduct more awareness campaigns on the importance of practitioners’ maintaining systems of quality control. Additionally, iCPAR has developed guidelines and quality control manuals for practitioners alongside holding continuing professional development events to support its members’ understanding and the objectives of QA reviews.
The institute indicates that it is already starting to monitor the implementation of recommendations from the first AQA feedback reports. Going forward, it intends to publish an annual summary report of the AQA review results.
There are several positive trends happening with the implementation of iCPAR’s AQA system and it is encouraging that there is a demand for QA reviews. iCPAR is encouraged to continue with its plan to operate the AQA in 2019 with additional support as needed. As results of more AQA reviews become available, iCPAR can consider how to offer trainings and CPD on the most common deficiencies found and ensure appropriate links with its investigation and discipline system.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
iCPAR is mandated by the Law on the Institute of Certified Public Accountants (iCPAR) No. 11 of 2008 to design the syllabus/curricula and conduct examinations leading to the available qualifications (Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Certified Accounting Technician (CAT)) and may set continuing professional development requirements (CPD) for professional accountants in Rwanda. The curricula at training institutions, including universities, which are prerequisites to iCPAR’s qualifications are solely determined by the Higher Education Council (HEC).
iCPAR’s Education, Curriculum Development, and Examinations Commission establishes the syllabus, curriculum, and examinations for designations of CPA and CAT. With the assistance of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants in Ireland, iCPAR reports its CPA qualification was developed in line with IES requirements as of 2010. From 2016–2018, a new “competency-based curriculum” was developed with the first sitting envisaged for the second quarter of 2019, starting with the CAT and later the CPA program. The new curriculum was developed in consultation with several stakeholders and covers both the private and public sector. The curriculum entails content from various subject areas and competences, with an appropriate mix of soft skills; professional values, ethics and attitude; and public financial management that may be required for any professional accountant to work effectively. iCPAR has received the guidance and support of the ACCA in developing the new curriculum through the UK’s Department of International Development-funded IFAC PAO Capacity Building Program.
iCPAR has been engaging with universities on the new CAT syllabus to align university curricula and has conducted Train-the-Trainer workshops for lecturers and instructors that will enable them to better coach students toward becoming CATs. iCPAR has also been providing tuition providers with performance statistics of students in their colleges to spur improvements in the quality of tuition and thereby, pass rates.
Presently, iCPAR stipulates that CPA candidates must have two years of supervised practical experience. Stakeholders have encouraged iCPAR to invest in and strengthen the post-qualification practical experience to raise the standard and quality of accountancy graduates and meet IES 5 which outlines a mandatory, monitored three-year practical training period. iCPAR notes that for the CAT qualification, candidates must have one year of practical training and it is considering how to enhance the requirement to three years for its CPA qualification by June 2020.
In regards to CPD, the institute has set mandatory CPD requirements, which are in line with IES 7 and 8. iCPAR publishes an annual calendar of CPD events for and monitors compliance with CPD returns. The institute collects pre- and post-event evaluations to offer more relevant CPD events each year.
iCPAR has made remarkable progress in the development of its new CAT qualification and engagement with stakeholders to ensure that it addresses the necessary competencies for the Rwandan market. The institute is encouraged to consider the stakeholder feedback to subject the CPA qualification to same rigorous process and revision and how the institute might strengthen its technical capacity to do this.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
iCPAR founding legislation states that iCPAR must adopt auditing standards that are consistent with ISA issued by the IAASB. As such, iCPAR reports that it has adopted ISA as issued by the IAASB without modifications, including the effective date. As of the assessment, iCPAR indicates that all listed entities apply the new auditor’s reporting standard as per the 2016 ISA (e.g. Bank of Kigali). In consultation with other regulators such as the Capital Market Authority and National Bank of Rwanda, iCPAR is planning to issue a circular at the end of 2019 which clearly defines public interest entities and will require these entities to apply the new auditor’s reporting standard and Key Audit Matters reporting requirements with the audit of FY 2019. Furthermore, iCPAR plans to adopt and implement the 2018 ISA by its effective date and will ensure this is communicated to members.
iCPAR remains informed of any ISA updates and promptly disseminates this information to members. It also offers training and continuing professional development (CPD) for its members on ISA in addition to including ISA in its pre-qualification examinations. The institute’s Inspection Commission and Audit and Risk Committee handle technical queries related to ISA.
Additionally, iCPAR reports that its Professional Development Services will circulate IAASB exposure drafts among members and submit comment as needed. In cases where further guidance or clarification might be necessary, iCPAR notes that it will consult with neighboring PAOs in the region regarding implementation of certain standards.
In its next submission, the institute is encouraged to provide an update on the consultations related to and application of the new auditor’s report amongst all defined public interest entities. As the 2018 Handbook becomes fully effective in December 2019, including revised standards ISA 250 and 540, iCPAR should consider outlining its activities for implementation support.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
iCPAR is legally authorized to issue a Code of Professional Conduct and Ethics that is kept consistent with the IESBA Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants. iCPAR states that the 2016 IESBA Code is effective for its members and the 2018 International Code of Ethics will be adopted when it is effective as of June 15, 2019.
To support implementation of the ethical requirements, iCPAR indicates that it will receive and share updates from the IESBA with members as part of raising awareness. For example, the institute has already communicated the change of the 2018 International Code to members and plans to strengthen understanding and compliance through its CPD programming in 2019.
iCPAR also states that it has shared information brochures and other educational materials on the Code along with including discussion on the Code in its annual conference. It is striving to ensure that members receive practical lessons on how to deal with threats to professional independence and that it has enhanced its CPD programming on topics such as conflicts of interest. A significant challenge is the resources needed to monitor members’ compliance with the updates to the Code of Ethics. The institute reports that it does have plans to hire a manager that will have this core responsibility.
The institute has also noted that its education curriculum covers ethical requirements extensively considering stakeholder feedback on the need to provide more educational sessions on the requirements of the IESBA Code of Ethics.
Considering the upcoming June 2019 effective date of the 2018 International Code of Ethics, iCPAR is encouraged to continue its support of members with implementation and in a next submission, provide any update on its progress with addressing the challenge of monitoring compliance.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
As a member state of the East African Community, the Rwandan Government set an objective to achieve full compliance with the cash-basis IPSAS by June 30, 2016 and aims to achieve full compliance with the accrual-basis IPSAS by June 30, 2023. At the national level, the iCPAR Law 2008 stipulates that within public institutions the accounting standards be consistent with IPSAS. Under the law, iCPAR is also responsible for advising the Rwandan Government on matters related to public financial management and accountancy.
iCPAR is expected to play a significant role in supporting the implementation of accrual IPSAS. In collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, the institute has set-up a public sector accounting standards committee to guide the developments of new standards and changes to current ones. There is an IPSAS transition blueprint with a timeline of five years to move from modified cash to accrual IPSAS in a phased approach. iCPAR has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with key public sector entities such as the Ministry of Finance, the Rwanda Revenue Authority, the Capital Markets Authority, and the Rwanda Local Governments Association (RALGA) to provide technical support and training. The institute reports that several trainings have already taken place on public sector accounting and leadership development. In December 2018, the institute held an in-house training for the Accountant General’s office.
Furthermore, the institute is committed to keeping stakeholders and members aware of latest developments with the IPSAS and PFM best practices. iCPAR launched a quarterly journal that disseminates information on public sector accounting developments amongst other topics.
To complement these efforts in advising on adoption, iCPAR is including a public sector competency and a PFM pathway in its CAT qualification. This is a development welcomed by stakeholders due to high demand for competent, qualified public sector accountants to successfully execute the implementation blueprint. The MINECOFIN itself has developed a Public Financial Management Learning and Development Strategy (PFM L&D) that aims at creating a critical mass of professionals to support the Rwandan Economy and public financial matters. iCPAR has been identified as a key partner in the implementation of the PFM L&D strategy and plans to develop a PFM qualification in partnership with MINECOFIN to drive the further professionalization of public sector accountants, which includes application of IPSAS.
iCPAR’s recent engagement and technical involvement in the advising on the adoption and implementation of IPSAS is commendable. The institute is encouraged to continue this path and provide updates on the progress of the following: (i) the Rwandan government’s reporting on accrual IPSAS and (ii) the development and launch of its CAT, and subsequently CPA, programming that includes public sector competencies. iCPAR may consider if it can offer CPD for current members and government staff on related topics.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
iCPAR is responsible for establishing and operating an investigation and discipline (I&D) system for its members as mandated by iCPAR Law 2008 and has established I&D procedures accordingly. The institute has an Inspection Commission which, upon request by the Council, may investigate allegations/cases of professional misconduct and submit the report to the Governing Council. The Council will in turn hand the report over to the Disciplinary Commission which is responsible for analyzing and examining complaints related to professional misconduct and communicating a conclusion back to the Council. Individuals have the right to appeal the decision before the Council before a final decision is made.
iCPAR reports that steps were taken to enhance independence and objectivity of the Disciplinary Commission by having a lawyer advise on disciplinary cases. iCPAR notes that it has as formalized a link between its quality assurance (QA) review results and once QA reviews commence at the end of 2019, this will be operational. This ensures that iCPAR’s I&D procedures fulfill all the SMO 6 best practices.
iCPAR notes that it handled two cases in 2018 and sought external legal advice on how to proceed given the significant disciplinary nature. In 2019, the institute indicates that its I&D procedures will be further strengthened and respond to stakeholder requests for reinforcing its I&D mandate and discouraging malpractice and misconduct. There has been an increase in complaints, indicating that the public is trusting iCPAR to handle these issues and demonstrates the need for more resources and capacity building for this area. The institute has reached out to regional partners for support and in October 2018, it visited the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya to conduct a benchmarking study and enhance iCPAR’s knowledge on I&D procedures and enforcing compliance with ethical requirements.
iCPAR reports it has developed a brochure for informing the public on iCPAR and its I&D system and is working on creating a webpage for educating the public on the I&D system as well.
Given the increasing demand from the public and stakeholders for an effective I&D system, iCPAR is encouraged to outline a timeline and steps for enhancing its communications around I&D in the public interest. The timeline might include actions related to engaging in outreach campaigns to inform the public on how to report disciplinary cases to the institute and regularly informing its members on consequences with non-compliance. iCPAR is encouraged to continue its efforts to build its capacity in this area by learning from other PAOs in the region.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
The Law on the iCPAR No. 11 of 2008 states that, within the private sector, the accounting standards must be consistent with IFRS. iCPAR has therefore adopted IFRS and IFRS for small- and medium-sized entities (SMEs) without modifications.
The institute is now focused on implementation and monitoring IFRS compliance which it intends to do more fully in 2019. Within its Inspection Commission that will be responsible for quality assurance reviews, iCPAR reports that it has established an IFRS expert group that will address IFRS implementation issues.
iCPAR will continue its training initiatives on IFRS and is often approached by private companies to facilitate in-house workshops on IFRS for employees. Both its CAT and CPA qualification programs include courses on IFRS and the institute has signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with universities to align their accountancy syllabi with that of iCPAR and include IFRS. Additionally, its continuing professional development (CPD) programming addresses IFRS and new developments. It also states that it notifies members of pronouncements and new developments and revisions to the standards via email.
Finally, iCPAR notes that it participates in the international standard-setting process by researching and providing comments on IASB exposure drafts and other public consultations through its participation in PAFA’s technical forum.
Based on input from several stakeholders, iCPAR should also consider training courses for members geared toward the practical implementation of IFRS for SMEs given the number of SMEs in the country.
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