The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops in conjunction with the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in East African (AMECEA) organized an annual Accountant conference at Kaskazi Hotel in Mombasa. The weeklong Conference started on 28th August and came to close on 1st September 2017. The conference brought together 102 Finance Administrators, Accountant and Bursars from Catholic Dioceses, Congregations and Institutions in Kenya.
This year theme was“ Financial Sustainability in the Catholic church in line with the Emerging Economic issues’’
In his opening remarks, the KCCB -Finance Commission Chairman Rt. Rev. James Maria Wainaina welcomed all to the conference and thanked the organisers for taking time to organise the conference despite the political climate. He called the participant to be good stewards by noting that the world today is looking for men and women who can stand out to be better stewards. This is because the social reality is such that to be a better steward, you must overcome great challenges of corruption and misuse of funds. This is more pronounced where the financial system is weak. Moreover, the classical challenge of unlimited financial needs against limited financial resources makes financial decision making difficult.
Faced with such challenges, we can adopt the words of St. Paul (1 Corinthians 15:57-58) where he wrote “but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain’’
“The theme for this year’s conference is the most difficult challenge of our times; financial sustainability. We are living in a new reality characterised by reducing donor funding, increasing expectations from the Church and increasing demands by regulators such as on matters of taxation. While most of our institutions have embraced property development as one way of becoming financially sustainable, this has brought about challenges such as cost of borrowing, more enlightened tenants, payment of VAT and so on. The accountant in such a situation becomes the representative of the owners in ensuring there is good return on investment, the property taxes are paid on time and that the property is properly maintained.” added Bishop Wainaina.
Some of the topics discussed were
- Financial Management under Canon Law
- Taxation and emerging issues.
- Investment and Dynamics of property management
- Budgeting and Budgetary controls under new donor’s requirements
- Corporate governance and Business ethics
- Emerging issues on labour practices
- ICT challenges and opportunities.
Participants were happy for this year’s conferences and requested the same to continue in the years to come. The Head of KCCB -Finance Commission, Mr.Joseph Kimani Mutiga appreciate the participant for taking their time to come to the conference. He requested them to be good stewards and take the responsibilities bestowed on them by the Bishops and the Superiors with dedication. Mr Kimani thanked the Sponsors of the Conference ie. AMECEA, Pacis Insurance, Ufungamano Centre, BRITAM, NIC Bank for being part of the conference success.
The KCCB- General Secretary Very Rev. Fr. Daniel Rono thanked all the participant on behalf of the Bishops for the role they play in the Management of Church funds. He said that the conference is unique way to share as part of our professional and encouraged all to undertake their responsibilities professionally in our Dioceses and Institution. He thanked the team that came with the idea for planning the conference. Fr. Rono encouraged all to share the knowledge that has been acquired in the conference with others and also put them to practice.
On his part, when making the closing remarks Fr. Ferdinand Lugonzo the Secretary General AMECEA all for the participation for their contribution and sharing and expressed gratitude’s to KCCB for organising the conference. He added that AMECEA partnered with the Conference to add value noting that AMECEA had embarked on the Financial Management training for the region. He said Kenya was the third Conference to benefit from the training after Uganda and Ethiopia respectfully. In a special way he thanked the United States Bishops Conference for the continued support in empowering the agents of evangelization. He asked all to take home skills learnt and share with others.