FAQs

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Q. What do you mean when you say there is an acute shortage of professional accountants in Liberia; what about the many accounting graduates from our universities since the days of J. J. Roberts, some of whom have MBAs in accounting; are they not professional accountants?

A. Not every accounting graduate is a professional accountant just as not every law school graduate is an Attorney-at-law; and not everyone who graduates from a health sciences training institution is a healthcare professionals. A law school graduate must pass a bar exam and be admitted to the bar to qualify as professional lawyer, i.e., attorney-at-law; and a graduates from a health sciences institution must pass an appropriate medical board exam to qualify as a healthcare professional (Medical Doctor, Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Midwives, lab technicians, etc.). So too the holder of accounting degree must also pass an appropriate credentialing exam in order to become a professional accountant. The term “qualified

2. Q. What do you mean by bringing accounting education standards in Liberia up to a global standard; what is wrong with the quality of accounting education in Liberia?

A. Let’s put it this way: when investors come to establish a business in Liberia, they need the services of two professionals from the get go. First, a lawyer to get the business established as a legal entity in Liberia; then next an accountant, to handle the financial operations of the entity. In some cases, investors approach the LICPA for recommendations for professional accountants to fill those vacancies. Sadly, such requests are often not readily met or not met at all because there is an acute shortage of professional accountants in Liberia. In the end, more often than not, the investor brings in accountants from outside of Liberia, very frequently from neighboring ECOWAS countries, to fill accounting vacancies.

3. Q. What do you mean when you say there is an acute shortage of professional accountants in Liberia; what about the many accounting graduates from our universities since the days of J. J. Roberts, some of whom have MBAs in accounting; are they not professional accountants?

A. Not every accounting graduate is a professional accountant just as not every law school graduate is an Attorney-at-law; and not everyone who graduates from a health sciences training institution is a healthcare professionals. A law school graduate must pass a bar exam and be admitted to the bar to qualify as professional lawyer, i.e., attorney-at-law; and a graduates from a health sciences institution must pass an appropriate medical board exam to qualify as a healthcare professional (Medical Doctor, Registered Nurse, Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN), Midwives, lab technicians, etc.). So too the holder of accounting degree must also pass an appropriate credentialing exam in order to become a professional accountant. The term “qualified accountant” is also often used to refer to a professional accountant. So, in this discussion we will use the two terms “qualified accountant” and “professional accountant” interchangeably.

4. Q. Why is all that necessary; this so-called professional qualification?

A. Because professional qualification exams establish minimum global standards that are comparable worldwide. In addition, each profession establishes a code of ethics that members must abide by or risk expulsion.

5. Q. So why is there such an acute shortage of professional accountants in Liberia?

A. Because until quite recently, particularly, until 2008, there has not been any history at all of professional accounting qualification programs in Liberia. It was only in 2008 that the LICPA started the Accounting Technicians Scheme, West Africa (ATSWA) in Liberia. Later, in May 2011, the Institute commenced its professional qualification exams, which are actually the professional accounting qualification exams of the Institute of Chartered Accountants, Ghana (ICAG). On this basis, the LICPA expects that Liberia will have its first set of homegrown professional accountants hopefully in 2013 or 2014.


6. Q. Do all investors require qualified accountants; if so why?

A. Not all do. Some simply want good accountants. But sadly, more often than not, even that modest request is also not readily met as employers complain about the poor quality of accountants from our schools. For these reasons employers often end up bringing in competent accountants from outside of Liberia, generally from neighboring ECOWAS countries, as earlier stated.
Meanwhile, just between September 2008 and December 2012, the University of Liberia alone has graduated 2,984 accountants. That is quite a number for the population of Liberia. Add to that the number of accounting graduates put out by all the other colleges and universities combined during that period; then consider the same situation even before 2008 and it becomes clear that a change in accounting education in Liberia is needed. The LICPA’s new program seeks to introduce the requisite change that will address this anomaly. It will emphasize quality over quantity with respect to accounting graduates from Liberian universities.

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