Cambodia and development partners yesterday launched a new accounting qualification for universities that aims to increase the number of skilled accountants and bookkeepers in the country.
The Accounting Technician Qualification (ATQ) will produce at least 500 skilled accountants by the end of next year to meet the rising demand for the profession among local companies, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
ATQ has been developed with the participation of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the National Accounting Council, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales and the Kampuchea Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Auditors.
The qualification will be available in English and Khmer to support uptake by colleges and students across Cambodia.
Organisers said it will improve youth employability, allowing students to become accountants at a low cost and within a short time.
Speaking at an event yesterday to introduce the programme, Sonali Dayaratne, UNDP deputy resident representative, highlighted the urgent need for accounting professionals in the Kingdom.
“[Cambodia’s] regional and global economic integration, and increasing demand among local small and medium businesses for accounting technicians requires Cambodia to urgently increase the number of skilled accountants, as well as upgrade its accounting standards to the level of neighbouring countries and international standards,” Ms Dayaratne said.
At the current juncture of the country’s development, having duly qualified accounting and auditing professionals is critical to promote private sector and SME development, investor confidence, public financial governance, and sustainable growth, she added.
“There is a serious shortage of skilled accountants for private sector firms, especially small and medium enterprises in Cambodia.
“The lack of accounting professionals is a concern for sustaining economic growth; however, it also presents a fantastic chance to create and provide better quality employment for young Cambodians,” said Ms Dayaratne.
However, she warned, “This is just the beginning of ATQ implementation. More work needs to be done to improve employment prospects for young Cambodians and raise the standard of the accounting profession in the country.”
According to the Industrial Development Policy 2015-2025, only 0.02 percent of micro-enterprises, 3.89 percent of small enterprises and 24.11 percent of medium enterprises carry adequate bookkeeping.
This is a barrier for enterprises accessing finance, government assistance or new technology. The figures are consistent with the findings of a quick survey by UNDP Cambodia among employers, which revealed that micro-enterprises and SMEs face difficulty hiring professional accountants given the limited number of skilled accountants in the market, according to UNDP.
Ngy Tayi, secretary of state at the Ministry of Economy and Finance and chairman of the National Accounting Council, said the programme comes at the right time and is in line with the vision and activities of the government outlined in the Financial Sector Development Strategy 2016-2025 and Cambodia’s Industrial Development Policy 2016-2025.
“With this programme, we will encourage 80 percent of SMEs to be officially registered and to ensure that 50 percent of small and 70 percent of medium enterprises have proper accounting and balance sheets by 2025,” Mr Tayi said.
“It also builds capacity for overall monitoring and the protection of the banking and financial system from being used for money laundering and financing of terrorism. It promotes good governance, data quality, accounting and auditing, as well as better real estate evaluation, real estate services, and real estate markets,” he added.