A new joint guide by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) released at the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) aims to boost PFM reforms across the globe by defining for the first time the idea of professionalisation specifically in the context of public sector finance.
The guide also features case studies of good practice from Tanzania, the UK, Cyprus, the Philippines, Pakistan, Malaysia and Wales.
A global guide for professionalisation in public sector finance provides a definition of what professionalisation means in public sector finance, sets out the benefits of professionalisation, and offers a high-level roadmap to support global good practice in professionalisation.
Discussing the global guide ahead of a panel discussion at WCOA, Joseph Owolabi, ACCA president, said: “Professionalisation brings credibility, trust and confidence in public finances by supplementing the systems and public finance processes with the right skills for accountability, transparency, good governance and external scrutiny.
A professionalised workforce within a finance function supplies more than accounting information. It brings wide value to public sector finances – providing improved revenue collection, effective budgetary controls, and the data required to support policy decision making.”
Kevin Dancey, IFAC CEO, said: “We are looking to rebalance the focus so that it is not only on the process, but also on the people. The value of the accountancy profession, whether in the public or private sectors, comes from the experience, skills, judgement and ethical behaviour of its people. By increasing the number of professional accountants working in the public sector, we will no doubt add to the credibility and effectiveness of PFM, and reinforce trust in public services and spending.”
Achieving professionalisation brings multiple benefits to the economy, governments and individuals. It means greater financial credibility for economies, improved financial management discipline for governments, and greater access to diverse career options for individuals.
Alex Metcalfe, ACCA’s head of public sector, said: “Political leadership and commitment for professionalisation is the most important factor for sustaining PFM reforms over time. In some countries, there is a lack of recognition that change is needed at all. In other countries, PFM reforms have concentrated on moving from cash-based to accrual-based accounting. But now more effort is urgently required to professionalise public finance staff and provide opportunities for training for professional qualifications.”