We often overlook weak signals of changes taking place in the world that pose both significant challenges and opportunities for development. The 7% growth rate of Cambodia’s economy in 2019, for instance, often draws our attention to the contributions of the Kingdom’s prioritized sectors - garments, agriculture, and tourism. This leaves sectors such as audit and accounting out of the picture we paint in our minds of Cambodia’s economic growth. However, this sector is critical to strategically move the country from playing catch up, to becoming a true game changer in the fast-moving development context of the 21st century. To achieve this goal, building human capital in accounting and audit will require a more accessible design.
Cambodia needs to train more accountants
There has been an increasing need among local small and medium businesses for accounting technicians in Cambodia. Currently, only 0.02% of micro-enterprises, 3.89% of small enterprises and 24.11% of medium enterprises have adequate book-keeping. This is a barrier for enterprises in the country to access finance, government assistance or new technology.
In Cambodia, several higher educational institutions that provide accounting and audit courses exist, but these are centered in the capital city and come with a high cost and long duration of study in order to graduate. Among these, there is only one institution in Cambodia with quality recognition from ACCA, whose standard annual subscription is £112 (around 146 USD) and Applied Skills Exams is £106 (around 138 USD). Most students find it hard to afford this renowned certified accounting standard that can help them to kick start their careers. This reflects an urgent need for accessibility and affordability in professional accounting and audit training.
The ATQ programme aims to produce at least 500 more accountants in Cambodia by 2021. Building a stronger accounting and audit sector through a more refined programme such as the ATQ will ultimately help to create a more attractive business environment, increase investor confidence in public financial management, and address current employers’ needs for ready-to-work accountants in Cambodia.
Chhay Lim | National Intern on Communications and Knowledge Management, UNDP Accelerator Labs in Cambodia