ACCA - The global body for professional accountants
Governments around the world are wrestling with a number of difficult and complex challenges – ageing population, healthcare costs, reform of welfare support, provision of quality education, the environment and climate change, defence costs and protection of natural resources to name a few. Each of these have to be dealt with at a time when the global economic crisis has impacted on the public sector in most jurisdictions. As a result, the public sector has to operate in a world of spending restrictions, of budget cuts, of greater efficiencies – at a time when cuts are unpalatable to many taxpayers
—Anthony Harbinson, vice president, ACCA

Event attracts high level; speakers from the World Bank, Institute of Fiscal Studies, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and OECD

Introducing ACCA’s fourth international public sector conference, Anthony Harbinson, the Vice President of ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) said today that good economic governance should lie at the heart of public sector finance, alongside consistent, transparent and holistic financial information. 

Mr Harbinson added that these issues are particularly important for the public sector due to on-going global sovereign debt issues and the fluctuations of the world economy, adding that both growth and austerity bring specific challenges. 

Rebalancing the economy – boosting growth is the theme of the conference, at which Mr Harbinson said that finance professionals working in the public sector play a pivotal role in dealing with the financial challenges faced by public bodies. 

He also spoke about the ‘value’ of the public sector, adding that as many economies around the world attempt to pull themselves out of one of the worst financial crises for decades, questions are increasingly being asked about the quality of government accounting and reporting and the value of audit. 

Anthony Harbinson reminded the audience that the amount of expenditure on public services is significant - government expenditure accounts for more than one-third of GDP in most countries, adding: 'Given the sheer scale of expenditure and arena in which they operate, there is a pressing need for finance professionals in the public sector to encourage and embrace even greater transparency to underpin the enhanced financial management skills adopted in the sector in recent years.' 

Mr Harbinson also commented on audit in the public sector: 'Given the amount of money we work with, ACCA strongly believes that external and internal audit make a valuable contribution to providing re-assurance to both public sector managers and taxpayers. Audit – whether in the public or private sectors - has a valuable role in promoting public confidence and trust.'

He concluded: 'Governments around the world are wrestling with a number of difficult and complex challenges – ageing population, healthcare costs, reform of welfare support, provision of quality education, the environment and climate change, defence costs and protection of natural resources to name a few. Each of these have to be dealt with at a time when the global economic crisis has impacted on the public sector in most jurisdictions. As a result, the public sector has to operate in a world of spending restrictions, of budget cuts, of greater efficiencies – at a time when cuts are unpalatable to many tax payers.'

Speakers at the event included:

  • Carl Emmerson, deputy director, Institute of Fiscal Studies
  • Gary Gillespie, director and chief economist for Scotland's government
  • Mario Marcel, deputy director of the Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, OECD
  • Fabian Zuleeg, chief economist, European Policy Centre
  • Brian Quinn, director, Loan Department, World Bank
  • Richard Hughes, economist, IMF
  • Alexandre Makaronidis, head of unit - GFS quality management and government accounting at DG Eurostat.

- ends - 

For more information, please contact:

Alana Sinnen, ACCA Newsroom
+ 44 (0) 207 059 5807
+44 (0) 7715 812120
alana.sinnen@accaglobal.com

Helen Thompson, ACCA Newsroom
+44 (0)20 7059 5759
+44 (0)7725 498654
helen.thompson@accaglobal.com 

Notes to Editors

  1. ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) is the global body for professional accountants. We aim to offer business-relevant, first-choice qualifications to people of application, ability and ambition around the world who seek a rewarding career in accountancy, finance and management. 
  2. We support our 154,000 members and 432,000 students in 170 countries, helping them to develop successful careers in accounting and business, with the skills required by employers. We work through a network of over 80 offices and centres and more than 8,400 Approved Employers worldwide, who provide high standards of employee learning and development. Through our public interest remit, we promote appropriate regulation of accounting and conduct relevant research to ensure accountancy continues to grow in reputation and influence. 
  3. Founded in 1904, ACCA has consistently held unique core values: opportunity, diversity, innovation, integrity and accountability. We believe that accountants bring value to economies in all stages of development and seek to develop capacity in the profession and encourage the adoption of global standards. Our values are aligned to the needs of employers in all sectors and we ensure that through our qualifications, we prepare accountants for business. We seek to open up the profession to people of all backgrounds and remove artificial barriers, innovating our qualifications and delivery to meet the diverse needs of trainee professionals and their employers.