With only 70 accredited accountants in Cambodia, officials wonder how auditing and enforcement can proceed
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
Students attend class in Phnom Penh. With the stock market on its way, Cambodia needs more trained accountants, say officials.
WITH the stock market set for a mid-2009 launch, a finance official says Cambodia is in dire need of Certified Public Accountants (CPAs) to conduct audits and enforce securities regulations.
"Professional accountants are very important for the stock markets. We acknowledge that the [skills] of our professional accountants are still insufficient. They clearly need more training," said Ngy Tayi, undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance and chairman of the National Accounting Council.
He said Cambodia only has about 70 licenced accountants.
"The honesty of [Cambodia's] professional accountants is in doubt, and they are not trusted as independent. But they have their professional code of conduct and if they break the rules ,the NAC will revoke their licenses," he said.
He added that about 2,000 businesses would need to have their books audited if new rules are implemented.
In a bid to upgrade the capacity of Cambodian accountants for the upcoming stock market, the NAC has partnered with CamEd to train CPAs. Students with bachelor's degrees in law, accounting and economics can become CPAs after four years of study.
"We want to build capacity for Cambodians in this task. We don't want to depend on foreign professional accountants to do it," Ngy Tayi said.
He added that the forthcoming amendment of the Law on Accounting and uditing Standards will be finalised by the end of 2009 to bring Cambodia up to international norms.
Heng Vanda, a member of the NAC and chairman of the Vanda Institute of Accounting, which has trained about 2,000 accountants since 2000, said on Sunday that some Cambodian accountants are trustworthy and independent, and have acceptable standards.
"Cambodian professional accountants have the capacity to audit financial statements," adding that there were "also bad international accountants".
"Currently Cambodia has around 20 CPAs, who were mostly trained in the US or UK," said Heng Vanda.
Mong Reththy, president of the Mong Reththy Group, told the Post that companies should use local, rather than international, accountants because they understand local business practices.
"There is also corruption among foreign accountants, it is just that people don't raise it," said Mong Reththy.
"We have trained our staff in accounting by sending them overseas, and we are ready to have our company audited with confidence. If we don't allow them to audit, we will be unable to enter the stock market."
Son Chhay, a Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker, said on Sunday that Cambodian accountants would have trouble meeting legal standards.