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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Certification is on its way

Certification is on its way

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090202_16.jpg

The country’s new accounting authority says that local universities will be able to train internationally certified accountants, possibly by 2010

Photo by: VANDY RATTANA

Accountants work their numbers in t his file photo at Morison Kak and Associes in Phnom Penh.

CAMBODIAN universities may be offering their first certified accounting courses by 2010 under a World Bank-funded program run by the country's new accounting authority.

Spearheaded by the Kampuchea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors (KICPAA), the project  aims to see the launch of internationally-certified accounting courses under a possible US$8-million to $10- million World Bank grant.

The institute was established in 2003 and became a permanent member of the US-based International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) in November.

Institute Chairman Kak Key told the Post the authority will cooperate with both state and private universities for the project.

"If a university wants to be certified with us, they have to sign on a memorandum of cooperation and ensure that they follow the curriculum," he said.

We will benefit our country a lot by adopting the financial standards and training... of the IFAC.

"We will offer them technical and financial assistance to boost capacity," said Kak Key

The program aims to submit a final report to the World Bank in November of this year, with the project expected to run from 2010 to 2015.

"I expect that for the first year, there will be six or seven universities in Phnom Penh registered. Later, we hope to expand that to 15 universities," he said.

"After the five-year project, I hope to see 5,000 students and between 200 and 300 Certified Public Accountants  graduate."

The expected  launch of Cambodia's stock exchange has boosted demand for accountants, and the institute said that 1,000 CPAs are needed immediately.

"Graduates will be guaranteed by KICPAA and recognised by the Ministry of Education," he said.  

System shake-up

Ngy Tayi, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance, said the new courses will improve the country's business climate.

"We will benefit our country a lot by adopting the financial standards and training of the IFAC," he said.  

The IFAC has about three million members worldwide, with 157 federations in 152 countries, he said.

The government said it will eventually require all state and private companies to adopt international accounting standards.

Kak Key said that adhering to the accounting rules will mean producing a budgetary plan and having a board of directors to ensure that IFAC standards are adhered to.  

Making progress

Since it was established in 2003, the KICPAA has trained about 800  students directly. Candidates must hold a bachelor's degree in accounting, finance, economics or law for the course, which takes between three and four years.  

"We need an independent, local accounting and auditing institute that is recognised globally. Otherwise, the stock exchange will not be launched," said Kak Kay. "The institute is here to build trust and transparency in financial reporting."   

Good for business

Lim Loong Seng, CEO of OSK Bank, said that having more accountants  would greatly improve Cambodia's business appeal.

"The membership is definitely a good thing for Cambodia," he said.

"I hope to see an increase in the number of qualified accountants to pave the way for the stock exchange."

Kang Chandararot, president of the Cambodian Institute for Development Study, welcomed the announcement, saying that a local accounting base would reduce staff recruitment costs.

He said that small and medium enterprises have struggled without trained local accountants.

"I think the institute is very crucial for us and will pave the way for better business practices and the establishment of the stock exchange," he said.   

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