Steve Freer, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has said that urgent action is required by Commonwealth public finance leaders to help tackle the current financial crisis and to help avoid the next one.
Speaking at a Commonwealth Secretariat event held at CIPFA’s headquarters in London, Mr Freer said that the biggest challenge facing the accountancy profession right now is the quality of Government reporting, auditing and financial management.
Delegates at the event included accountants, auditors-general, and other public officials from 18 Commonwealth countries. They examined the merits, and shared their experiences and challenges, of moving towards International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
In his speech, Mr Freer highlighted the problems caused by poor public financial management,
“As we all know, markets hate uncertainty. But what could be more uncertain than the financial position of a Government entering into complex bail out transactions whilst maintaining its accounting on a cash abacus?”
He also pointed to the consequences of failing to address these problems and challenges, saying,
“When Government finances go seriously wrong, significant consequences follow. Public spending and public serves have to be cut back; economies begin to nose dive; unemployment starts to rise; and austerity comes to call.”
Finally, issuing a rallying call to public finance leaders he said, “It is time for our profession, and us as its leaders, to bring all of our collective influence to bear and to take our share of responsibility to make change happen.”