Training for accountants and vote comptrollers through the Accountant General’s Department with support from the European Union was aimed at improving the preparation of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) compliant financial reporting for all spending entities. The vote controllers and accountants from across spending entities were taken through the preparation of the IPSAS financial reports on Thursday 18 October to enhance transparency through financial reporting, as a way to guide the accounting treatment for all of government’s financial transactions in consonance with IPSAS. In his statement the Accountant General Richard Williams said that the training was meant to sharpen the skills of accountants and vote controllers across spending entities on the IPSAS reporting system. The Public Financial Management (PFM) Act 2016, mandates them to ensure compliance with certain responsibilities that the PFM Act put on the Accountant General and the vote controllers on account of financial reporting in line with international standards “As vote controllers,” he added, “we have noticed over the years that there have been series of challenges in putting together financial reports for the government, hence the need for us to make sure we capture all issues and concepts of the IPSAS reporting system that will enhance timely reporting of government transactions requisite capacity.” The Auditor General he said needs to audit from March to September and give opinion, whilst they are charged with the responsibility to prepare the account of the central government, which are the subvented agencies from the Consolidate Revenue Fund (CRF) and others that are not state-owned-enterprises (SOEs). He stressed that the ownership of the template is the vote controller or the head of the public sector entity, and warned that in future he would not want them to come complaining about the accountants not doing the right thing according to the PFM, “it is your responsibility for producing quality informative and reliable financial report” he said. AG Williams said they don’t want to continue facing embarrassment at the hands of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament for queries that will be raised in the Auditor General’s Annual report. The Auditor General faulted the MDAs for none compliance with section 1.3.24 of the Cash-Basis International Public-Sector Accounting (IPSAS) Standards. “Government should consider how such information can be gathered in the future. Until such information can be reported in a reliable way, the Consolidated Revenue Fund Account should include a narrative disclosure stating that although government is aware of such third-party payments it is not currently possible to identify and quantify all such transactions” this was written in the Annual Report of 2016. Launching the new general purpose financial statement reporting format issued by the Accountant General, the acting Financial Secretary Matthew Dingie, said that Ipsas is consistent with the PFM Act of 2016, to improve reporting methodology by expanding accounting framework at the central governance level to include the accounts of all government subvented agencies as well as MDAs. Financial reporting he stressed has been the challenge in the implementation of the PFM, as the most queries for the Auditor’s report are simply because the reports are not comprehensive, exhaustively coupled with lot of missing information. “I want you to inculcate the pattern of doing complete and timely report as this is a statutory requirement.” According to the rules, they are to publish financial reports quarterly, semi-annually and annually, and advised them to be preparing reports on a monthly basis using the format and submit to the Accountant General, which will help them learn quickly and if there are mistakes it will be rectified before the quarterly report. EU Team lead Cyprian Kamaray said the training was necessary, to ensure that they are able to relay information on the meagre resources allocated in a transparent and accountable manner and that the responsibility on the preparation of the account rests with the vote controller as relates to the standardized reporting in conformity with IPSAS and resolving or mitigating the existing concerns raised by the Auditor General’s report. He further said that it was expected that at the end of the workshop, vote controllers should ensure that they vet all the figures on the account before they sign off, “make sure you understand the account and know what you are putting your signature to, don’t just rely on the forwarded numbers and when you are asked to explain the figures you don’t know” he said.
By Zainab Iyamide Joaque
Friday October 19, 2018.