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The Keynote Speaker, Hon. Dr. Elly Karuhanga, Chairman of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU),

ICPAU Council members,

Past Presidents of ICPAU,

Members of the Events Management Committee,


Associate members,

ICPAU students,

Participants, online and resident,

Good morning and welcome to the 25th Annual Seminar.

It is an honour to welcome you all to the 25th Annual Seminar of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Uganda. It is an honour because, firstly, the Annual Seminar is the premium event on the accountants’ calendar in Uganda, attracting over 1,000 accountants annually, and it is by God’s grace that we have been able to hold it this year, given the circumstances of the pandemic. I know that there were several discussions with the authorities and that a lot of effort was invested to ensure observance of the Standard Operating Procedures, and for that I commend the Events Management Committee.

Secondly, this year we celebrate the silver jubilee of hosting Annual Seminar, the first having been held in 1995, in Mbarara, with only 45 participants. I know that there are some CPAs here today who were present at the first Annual Seminar, and if they could please wave (for those at the Hotel, in Entebbe) or signal via the chat (for those online), so that we recognise you.

I must thank the teams that have been responsible for the organisation of the various Annual Seminars since inception. The members of the Events Management Committees (EMCs) led by brilliant minds. I wish to recognise the Chairpersons of the EMCs over the years. There have been 3 of them.

  • CPA Naru Thakkar, a Partner at MGI HEM & Thakkar, who led the EMC when it was still an adhoc Committee under the Education Committee. CPA Thakkar was also the 5th President of ICPAU, from 2010-2013.

  • CPA John Muhaise Bikalemesa, of the Big Drum Advisory Services, and

  • CPA David Sserebe, the current chairman, who is a Partner at Sserebe, Opolot, Rugumayo & Associates.

Like many organisations, the Institute has been impacted by COVID-19 pandemic. We were not able to host the 3rd East African Congress of Accountants in March 2020, an event for East African accountants that rotates around the East African Professional Accountants Organisations every two years.

The most detrimental impact has been on the examinations, as we will only be able to hold one examinations diet instead of three planned. Registration numbers have declined by nearly 40% for the December 2020 diet, compared to November 2019 and this has affected the Institute’s income for this year 2020.

However, to facilitate students’ progression, the Public Accountants Examinations Board (PAEB) is considering another examinations diet in the first quarter of the year 2021. I am also happy to report that we are in the final stages of revising the CPA syllabus to bring it to speed with the new developments around the world.

Nonetheless the Institute remains resolute in our commitment to diligently serve our stakeholders, members and students, in line with our vision and mandate. As such, we have expedited the automation of some services and moved some activities online, to ensure uninterrupted service to members and students.

We implemented an online renewal of Certificates of Practice and firm licenses, to facilitate the 2021 re-application process and I am pleased to report that it has brought about more than 95% compliance compared to the previous manual re-application process. Practitioners are commended for their positive response to the process.

CPDs have transformed into webinars, and attendance has greatly improved compared to the physical attendance CPDs, with some webinars recording as high as 900 participants.

We have successfully executed a number of the planned activities for the year 2020, such as the 8th CPA Economic Forum which attracted over 300 participants, the 10th edition of the Financial Reporting Awards which attracted more than 80 entrants, audit quality monitoring reviews and firm inspections, research, and thought leadership initiatives, among others. In September 2020, we submitted to the Ministry of Finance, the tax proposals for the 2021/22 Government of Uganda budget and we were invited for the first time to a stakeholders’ meeting to discuss the proposals. We take pride in this because it means that the true value of accountants is becoming more apparent in our country.

We are on course to complete the 4th cycle of the audit quality review programme, which is nearly at 100% completion. The cycle will be concluded by 31 December 2020 and the Quality Assurance Board will issue a report. So far, the results are positive, with improvement being registered in the performance of many firms but a lot more needs to be done. The Quality Assurance Board approved, and Council agreed with, the introduction of a mentorship programme through which firms can learn and draw lessons from the high performers and implementation is in progress. In addition, Model Audit File training will be conducted to enhance the quality of audit documentation among practitioners.

I wish to draw the attention of practitioners to the revised Quality Management Standards. In September 2020, the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board approved 3 quality management standards, ISQM1, ISQM2 and ISA 220. The standards are more robust, with emphasis on improving quality management to increase confidence and trust among stakeholders. The standards elaborately address issues such as firm governance, leadership, culture, and the emergence of new trends, among others. Practitioners are encouraged to review their quality control systems in compliance with the new standards.

To this end, I wish to remind practitioners about the Practice Management Course which will be held from 9th to 11th December. The course targets both aspiring and existing practising accountants and aims to improve management and operational efficiency of practices, especially among SMPs, and will address present challenges that practitioners are facing in light of COVID-19, as well as the new standards and emerging trends in accountancy practice.

During this Annual Seminar we will explore the theme of “Value creation and sustainability during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic”, whereas COVID-19 has been disastrous, it has reawakened in us the spirit of inventiveness and resilience. And as we explore new ways of doing business and serving our clients and stakeholders it is important that we are cognisant of what should drive the next generation CPA. It remains upon us to leverage on our professional knowledge to continuously advise management and the board towards prudent strategies for business growth and sustainability, while not sacrificing the ethics. Ultimately, the effect of resilient and sustainable enterprises, will manifest in a strong economy.

Once again, I thank the teams that have worked tirelessly to ensure the success of the Annual Seminar, and I wish all participants a delightful 25th Annual Seminar.

God bless you all.