| The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has released Policy Position Paper 4, Public Sector Financial Management Transparency and Accountability: The Use of International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
The paper sets out IFAC’s view that governments around the world must provide clear and comprehensive information regarding the financial consequences of economic, political, and social decisions, in order to protect the public as well as investors in government bonds. It is issued at a time when deficiencies in many governments’ financial management, transparency, and accountability have become more prominent, as a result of the worsening sovereign debt problems around the globe. Transparency and accountability can only be provided through a high-quality, robust, and effective accrual-based financial reporting system, which allows for government assets and liabilities (including debt) to be appropriately recorded, reported, and disclosed—and hence effectively monitored.
The most globally accepted high-quality accrual-based financial reporting system is the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs), issued by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), an independent standard-setting board supported by IFAC.
Speaking from the IFAC Sovereign Debt Seminar, which brings together key government, public sector, and accountancy professionals from all over the world to promote the need for enhanced public sector financial reporting, Ian Ball, chief executive officer of IFAC, said, “The sovereign debt crisis has highlighted the lack of transparency and accountability of governments, poor public finance management and public sector financial reporting, and the deficiency of institutions for fiscal management in many countries. Governments around the world must collectively embrace high-quality and uniform accrual-based standards for financial reporting in order to protect the interests of both investors and citizens. While the problems highlighted by the sovereign debt crisis cannot be solved by better reporting alone, they cannot be solved in the long term without it.”
IFAC’s global seminar, The Sovereign Debt Crisis, A Matter of Urgency—from Lessons to Reform, was held March 19-20, 2012, in Vienna. The Seminar featured guest speakers that included: Vincenzo LaVia, Chief Financial Officer of the World Bank Group; Hon. David Walker, Founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative and Former United States Comptroller General; and Göran Persson, Former Prime Minister of Sweden.