MASERU- A new accounting qualification programme, the Lesotho Professional Accountancy Programme (LePAP), set to commence in July this year, has been launched.
LePAP falls under European Union (EU) Reduction Budget Support 11 which is intended to operationalise the project, which is designed to specifically address Lesotho’s economic needs.
Through this support to Lesotho the EU aims to alleviate poverty, and as such, the European economic bloc trusts that LePAP will indirectly alleviate poverty through improved public finance management systems. The EU also says LePAP will play a pivotal role in the prevention of fraud and corruption, thereby boosting investor confidence and resulting in job creation.
Speaking at the occasion to launch the programme in Maseru on Wednesday last week Chief Executive Officer Lesotho Institute of Accountants (LIA) Nthabiseng Tlhomola said LIA realized years ago that the qualifications it is offering currently were no longer appropriate to the needs of Lesotho and it was relying mostly on foreign qualifications.
“There was also no qualification that focuses on addressing specific needs of the public sector as we don’t have a chartered accounting qualification that focuses specifically on the public sector,” she said.
Tlhomola indicated that even though LePAP is a local qualification it is recognised internationally as students who acquires that qualification can work anywhere in the world as its design follows the International Federation of Accounting (IFAC) and also the international education standards under IFAC.
“For implementation of the project LIA got funds from European Union. EU was interested in the project as they are interested in poverty reduction and by supporting issues related to financial management it will indirectly reduce poverty in the sense that if the public sector has improved financial management issues such as corruption and fraud will be highly reduced thus improved services,” she said.
She continued that, “The project will also have an impact in the private sector as better financial management will increase investor’s confidence and entrepreneurs and as a result create job opportunities and as such poverty will be reduced.”
EU representative Jyrki Torni expressed concern that most of the time when EU offers technical assistance to this project, there were rarely Basotho consultants involved in it as the consultants involved came from outside.
“This is frustrating as we would like to see Basotho work out excel spreadsheets for themselves,” he said adding that the new qualification can contribute to actually finding qualified accountants in the country rather than importing them.
Meanwhile, LIA president Thuso Pitso said they applied to EU for financial assistance because they saw that as a natural progression in their systemic process designed to profile the accountancy profession in Lesotho, thereby bringing stability and possible shift in the quality and reliability of accounting, as well as audit and financial management.
He said through this qualification LIA will be able to improve competences, capacity, trustworthiness of the profession in the public sector which will address issues of weak resources and corruption which will lead to more productive use of government and development partner’s funds.
“In the private sector LePAP will strengthen the role of accountancy in business practitioners in supporting entrepreneurial activities which will help secure improvement in our slow pace inward investment in Lesotho, thus increasing economic activities and expand on employment.
This new programme will go a long way in improving financial management in both private and public sector thus contributing to reduction of poverty which is one of EU’s main targets in Lesotho,” he said.
Over 300 accountants in the public sector are ready to enroll with the programme and the first intake will be in July 2017. The EU funded the programme with 16 million Euros while the government of Lesotho funded it will M3 million.