Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda
Member | Established: 1992 | Member since 1996
ICPAU was established in 1992 under the Accountants Act 1992, which has since been repealed by the Accountants Act 2013 and Accountants Regulations 2016. In addition to auditors, who must be members of ICPAU, all heads of accounts, finance, and internal audit in public and private sector entities that are of public interest must also be a member of the institute. The ICPAU is responsible for: (i) setting and maintaining accounting and auditing standards; (ii) setting licensing requirements for accounting firms, and issuing and renewing licenses; (iii) issuing practicing certificates to qualified members who wish to practice accountancy; (iv) maintaining a register of practicing accountants; (v) setting initial professional development and continuing professional development requirements and regulating practical training; (vi) establishing ethical requirements; (vii) monitoring the conduct and performance of its members, including quality assurance reviews; (viii) investigating and disciplining members for misconduct and breach of professional standards; and (ix) advising the government on matters of financial accountability.
In addition to its membership of IFAC, ICPAU is a member of the Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) and the Association of Education Assessment in Africa (AEAA).
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
The ICPAU has direct responsibility for the quality assurance (QA) review system in Uganda in accordance with the Accountants Act 2013 and the accompanying Accountants (Practice) Regulations, 2019. The ICPAU has operated a QA review system that is line with SMO 1 best practice since 2007 with the third cycle of audit quality reviews completed in May 2017. The key findings and recommendations from the third cycle of reviews are publicly available and were extensively discussed with ICPAU members. The fourth cycle of reviews began in August 2017 and will end in 2020 with ICPAU again publishing a report on the review findings. As at May 2020, a total of 202 firms have so far been reviewed as part of the fourth cycle. Based on the results of the previous review cycle, the institute’s Quality Assurance Board (QAB) has advised firms to implement internal training programs and ensure that adequately understand client needs and risks.
In addition to routine QA reviews, the QAB has carried out reviews on the following topics of significant public interest: implementation of the new auditor’s report standards; implementation of NOCLAR and anti-money laundering (AML) requirements; and implementation of IFRS 15 and 9. As of May 2020, 90 firms had been reviewed for compliance with these areas.
ICPAU notes that it provides training for QA review inspectors and continuing professional development instructors alike; updates the QA-related training; and reviews procedures and the QA methodology on an ongoing basis—most recently in 2017 as part of the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)-funded IFAC PAO Capacity Building Program project. The ICPAU also provides training, guidance, and tools (sample audit manual and sample quality control manual) to support its members with the QA review process. Furthermore, it is focusing on providing support to small and medium practitioners (SMP) and has shared guides issued by IFAC’s SMP Committee. The institute raises awareness of these available resources through e-newsletters, emails, and seminars.
SMO 2: International Education Standards
In accordance with Sections 12 and 15 of the Accountants Act 2013, the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda (ICPAU) establishes initial professional development (IPD) and continuous professional development (CPD) requirements for professional accountants, oversees the implementation of those requirements, and advises regulators of educational institutions on the curricula of study in accountancy-related courses.
The ICPAU works to ensure that the accountancy education requirements and programs leading to its qualifications (Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Accounting Technicians Diploma (ATD), and Certified Tax Advisor (CTA)) comply with the revised IES requirements in accordance with its mandate under the Accountants Act 2013. The ICPAU’s Public Accountants Examination Board (PAEB) develops the syllabus and curriculum, conducts the examinations, appoints, and trains examiners, and defines the rules governing the examinations process. The syllabus must then be approved by the National Council for Higher Education (NCHE) which is the regulatory body for higher education in Uganda.
ICPAU reports that through the DFID-funded IFAC PAO Capacity Building Program and its partnership with the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS) it has mapped the IPD requirements leading to all three qualifications to meet the 2015 IES. The syllabi, study materials, and exams for the qualifications were launched in 2016. To prepare students to sit for the exams, the institute provides multiple resources including physical study packs and sample papers with solutions and the qualifications’ syllabi on its website. To register as an ICPAU student, candidates must have a degree from a recognized university or an Accounting Technician certificate from a recognized training. The ICPAU maintains a list of recognized universities and learning institutions and participates in the accreditation process led by the NCHE.
It was previously noted that there were challenges in preparing students in remote areas for the examination due to difficulties in accessing relevant training materials. With the new study packs now available, preparing for the exam is more accessible to students in more remote areas. Additionally, ICPAU has set up regional exam centers to serve more candidates.
Candidates must also complete a minimum of three years’ practical experience training. The Accountants Regulations 2016 provides a competency framework focused on work outcomes in both technical and non-technical areas that must be demonstrated to align with the revised IES 5. ICAS provided practical experience training guidance and workshops to support employers and trainees. ICPAU indicates that it will continue to review and approve employers to provide practical experience training. An online practical experience training logbook has also been rolled out to enable trainees to document their practical experience training and ICPAU to monitor the candidates’ practical experience training.
Once a member of ICPAU, individuals must fulfill CPD requirements that meet the revised IES 7 requirements, which became effective January 2020. The Accountants Regulations approved in 2016 prescribes input- and output-based CPD requirements. ICPAU also ensures that practicing accountants performing the role of an engagement partner maintain and demonstrate professional competence as required by IES 8.The institute provides a CPD calendar online which indicates the available trainings for the year. ICPAU notes that it has updated its CPD content with support from ICAS and it will use findings from its quality assurance reviews to identify topics for CPD training. Members must submit CPD return forms online to record their compliance with CPD requirements.
To continue to support the successful implementation of accountancy education meeting the IES, the ICPAU plans to regularly review its processes and content. For example, the 2016 syllabi is currently under review and a new syllabi which will incorporate all the standards that have been issued since 2016 will be out in 2021 with study materials also being revised. ICPAU plans to do this every five years. Its training for staff and examiners is also continuously updated and the institute circulates information issued by the IAESB.
In 2019, newly revised IES address learning and development for information and communications technologies (ICT) and professional skepticism. These revised standards become effective January 2021. ICPAU is encouraged to review these the revisions to the IES requirements as part of its regular syllabi, curriculum, and training review.
ICPAU is also encouraged to participate where relevant in sharing its perspective and experiences in implementing national accountancy education requirements that meet the revised IES as part of IFAC’s new approach to accountancy education.
SMO 3: International Standards on Auditing
The ICPAU has direct responsibility for the adoption of applicable auditing standards and, having adopted the ISA as issued by the IAASB on an ongoing basis since 1999, focuses on supporting members’ understanding and professional competence in implementing the standards.
ICPAU provides several resources and tools to support practitioners’ implementation of the standards. For example, it has published an illustrative auditor’s report based on the new auditor’s reporting standard effective in 2016 and explanatory note on the same topic. The institute notes that it has put a great deal of effort into trainings on the new standard as there were several queries received. Trainings have been held over the last two years and the new study material for its examinations includes the latest ISA. Furthermore, as part of the fourth quality assurance (QA) review cycle, the QA Review Team has included the new auditor’s reporting as a thematic area for close review. The institute has further availed and developed resources, for example, the ‘Coronavirus Disease (Covid-19) Guidance for Auditors’ to guide practitioners on how to apply particular ISA during the COVID-19 era.
The institute has published the 2018 Handbook on its website and participates in the international standard-setting process by submitting comments on exposure drafts and consultation papers to the IAASB. It also ensures it circulates the latest standard updates to its members; for example, it has explained the revisions to ISA 540. The institute has also shared implementation support material with practicing members such as the ISA Guide developed by the IFAC SMP Committee.
Finally, the ICPAU plans to begin creating practice guides, manuals, and audit programs to assist small and medium practitioners with the implementation of ISA. For example, it has developed and circulated guidance on auditor reporting standards implementation, and developed a model audit file as a guiding tool for improving audit documentation by accounting firms in compliance with ISAs which it hopes to roll out with a training for practitioners in 2020.
SMO 4: Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants
The institute is authorized to establish ethical requirements for professional accountants in line with the Accountants Act 2013. It has adopted the 2018 International Code of Ethics for Professional Accountants alongside the ICPAU Code of Ethics, which is generally based on the IESBA Code of Ethics.
ICPAU notes that it maintains an ongoing process to adopt updated versions of the IESBA Code of Ethics as they become issued by the IESBA. Secondary regulations—Accountants (Disciplinary and Ethics) Regulations—have been developed with the Ministry of Justice to incorporate the requirements of the 2018 International Code of Ethics and ensure the legal framework is linked to the international standards. The institute expects these to be issued in 2020. The institute is already raising awareness of the 2018 International Code of Ethics and the E-code.
ICPAU offers training to assist members with implementation of ethical requirements. Trainings have been held on the NOCLAR standard, which represented a significant change for the profession, and the institute plans to release additional resources in 2020. ICPAU is also planning to host training on the 2018 International Code of Ethics in 2020 and has encouraged members to participate in the IESBA’s recent webinars on the new Code. Moreover, it has reviewed its continuing professional development programming and its study materials/syllabi to ensure alignment with the 2018 International Code.
SMO 5: International Public Sector Accounting Standards
Per national legislation, specifically the Accountants Act 2013 and the Public Finance Management Act 2015, ICPAU and the Accountant General have authority to adopt and approve public sector accounting standards for use in the preparation of government financial statements. Although ICPAU reports that all PSAS have been adopted without modifications, the government is currently implementing a modified cash-basis form of IPSAS while committing to the full adoption and implementation of accrual-basis IPSAS by 2023.
The government, together with ICPAU, has developed a strategic roadmap to for the implementation of accrual-basis IPSAS. ICPAU notes that a Public Sector Accountancy Working Group (PSAWG) has been created, chaired by the Accountant General to understand the implementation challenges, and the government is moving towards accrual adoption and implementation through a reform process in three major areas: the legal and regulatory framework; processes and underlying systems (e.g. IT); and human resource and capacity development. In 2018, the PSAWG organized a roundtable meeting with key stakeholders to discuss the status of Public Financial Management (PFM) reforms and approved ICPAU’s strategy for supporting the implementation of accrual IPSAS.
ICPAU has a leading role in supporting and advising on the implementation process and, through the DFID-funded IFAC PAO Capacity Building Program, its partnership with the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy enabled the institute to scope out and develop a PFM roadmap. ICPAU notes that implementation of the roadmap will require greater human and financial capital.
The institute reports that it primarily intends to contribute to the roadmap implementation strategy by building professional competence and capacity through training. In 2018, the institute conducted an IPSAS workshop and plans to continue this on annual basis while the PSAWG identifies more needs and gaps to advise on future trainings. It also notes that its syllabus is being revised to include more public sector content which should be available in 2021. The institute has made the 2019 IPSAS Handbook available on its website, raises awareness of the standards, and shares exposure drafts and consultation papers issued by the IPSASB to receive member feedback and submit a response.
SMO 6: Investigation and Discipline
Section 39 of the Accountants Act 2013 outlines that the ICPAU is responsible for the investigation and discipline (I&D) of professional accountants for any professional misconduct and non-compliance with professional standards. The institute has established a Disciplinary Committee to handle and deliver judgment on cases of professional misconduct and a Disciplinary Appeals Committee to hear and determine appeals from the decisions of the Disciplinary Committee. In 2018, the ICPAU handled 22 complaints and in 2019,39.
The institute states that its I&D procedures meet the SMO 6 best practices and it has developed secondary regulations—Accountants (Disciplinary and Ethics) Regulations—to further enhance the I&D procedures, particularly the investigations, disciplinary and appeal process and reinforce compliance with ethical requirements. The Disciplinary Regulations (secondary regulations) will be submitted to the Ministry of Justice in June 2020. Currently, the secretary to the Disciplinary Committee and investigations staff perform investigations. The regulations will provide for a distinct investigations body. ICPAU notes that it educates members and the public on its I&D procedures and publishes an annual report of its I&D proceedings, although a recent court ruling determined that disciplinary cases can only be published under a provision of the law. The draft Disciplinary regulations have addressed this issue.
SMO 7: International Financial Reporting Standards
ICPAU is responsible for setting applicable private sector accounting standards in Uganda per the Accountants Act 2013. Since 1998, the institute has adopted IFRS without modifications for the preparation of financial statements, and the standards become effective in Uganda on the effective dates prescribed by the IASB. Companies that are not required to use IFRS Standards are permitted to use IFRS or IFRS for SMEs, which the institute has also adopted. The 2015 IFRS for SMEs are effective as of January 2017.
ICPAU has several ongoing initiatives that support the implementation of the standards. The institute shares updates on new and revised standards issued by the IASB and develops implementation guidance. It has shared guidance on revisions to IFRS 9, IFRS 16 and is developing guidance on IFRS 17. It also submits responses and comments from its members’ perspective to the IASB. For example, the institute compiled and submitted comments on the IASB’s IFRS for SME review project in July 2019 and ICPAU has contributed to the discussions and submitted comments on IFRS 16 COVID-19 Related Rent Concessions.
It also conducts training on IFRS in its continuing professional development program to bolster its members’ capacity to implement the standards and ensures its syllabi and examinations test knowledge of all current IFRS. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, ICPAU has continued to ensure members access trainings on application of IFRSs virtually.
As part of raising awareness amongst the public and business community and encouraging the implementation of IFRS, the ICPAU runs an annual Financial Reporting (FiRe) Awards ceremony. The FiRe Awards are aimed at improving the quality of financial and business reporting in the country by encouraging organizations to adopt global financial reporting standards and best practices and recognizing those companies with the most clear and transparent reports.
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