Five accountants have petitioned parliament to intervene on their behalf after the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Rwanda (ICPAR) suspended them for not having the required documents.
They argue that they were in practice long before ICPAR came into existence in 2008.
As there was no Certified Public Accounting programme in Rwanda then, practicing accountants were given a grace period of five years to have trained and qualified as Certified Public Accountants (CPA).
According to the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants, the CPA designation distinguishes licensed accounting professionals committed to protecting the public interest, offering financial statement audits and other attestation services to help inform investors about the financial health of organisations.
Explaining their concerns to the Standing Committee on Budget and National Patrimony of the Chamber of Deputies, François Xavier Gasore, the representative of the affected accountants, said that, until June 2013, ICPAR had not yet started the programme, arguing that it started it six months before the five-year period came to an end in 2014.
There were some 10 associate accountants as the law was being enacted
Article 60 of the law (governing ICPAR) provides that to be eligible for registration as an "Associate Accountant", an accountant shall be a holder of at least a bachelor's degree (A0) majoring in accounting or its equivalent; having exercised for at least four (4) years prior to the entry into force of this Law (in 2008), the independent accounting or auditing profession or to have served as an audit manager within firms evaluating audit reports in Rwanda.
Within five years from the date of publication of this Law in the Official Gazette of the Republic of Rwanda, any "Associate Accountant" member of the Institute shall endeavour to attain the qualifications required to be Certified Public Accountant, reads article 61 of the law, adding that after the lapse of the five years, the associate membership shall automatically cease.
Gasore said that only one person managed to study and get a CPA certificate, and that he made it thanks to an international audit firm he was representing, which enabled him to continue getting his salary as he pursued his studies abroad.
Gasore, who holds a master's degree in accounting, had an audit and consultancy firm which was prohibited from continuing work in 2014.
"One of us died of diabetes because he could not afford treatment after being suspended from the profession, another had his hotel auctioned as he could not pay off bank loan," he said.
"We want ICPAR to give us more time, say five years, to pursue the required courses so that we get CPA qualification," he added.
ICPAR concurred that the CPA programme was not yet fully established in Rwanda then but people could have enrolled outside the country.
ICPAR's Chief Executive Officer, Amin Miramago, said that the institution can give them a chance to get the required qualifications.
"If they say that they are ready to start the courses, we are ready to receive them, support and accompany them because our country needs many skilled professionals, and we will support them so that they join others and do work properly," he said.