Posted by Andy Wynne, Editor of the IJGFM
The first issue, for 2010, of the International Journal of Governmental Financial Management is now available for download from: www.icgfm.org/digest.htm
As usual the Journal covers a wide range of issue relating to public financial management especially in developing countries.
The first paper provides an insightful critique of the draft conceptual framework recently issued by the International Public Sector Accounting Standard Board. Petri Vehmanen of the University of Tampere, Finland observes that whilst the prime aim of private sector financial statements is to provide information for investors to make decisions about the entity, the prime purpose of public sector financial statements is to enhance accountability. This should be recognised and would result in the definitions of such prime elements as assets and liabilities being revised. His paper also recasts the qualitative characteristics of public sector financial statements. Petri concludes by saying that his proposals “are by no means radical”, but they do suggest that the specific characteristics of public sector financial reporting needs greater consideration.
The second paper is part of a series of articles in which Norvald Monsen has outlined a uniquely public sector approach to accounting and book keeping—cameral accounting. This was developed in German speaking counties and, until now, has remained largely unknown to English readers. Norvald (from the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration) provides an overview of the main tasks of traditional public sector accounting, followed by a detailed exposition of administrative cameralistics, focusing on the closing of the accounts and budgetary comparisons. A commentary section then explains how the four tasks of traditional public sector accounting are taken care of within cameral accounting. This is finally compared with both traditional commercial accounting and the new public sector accounting outlined in the International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
The next paper, by Hany H. Makhlouf, provides a useful introduction and overview of sovereign wealth funds. These funds managed by 23 countries, mainly those with significant income from natural resources, for example, oil, have been of increasing interest in recent years and are expected to grow in the future if, as expected the price of crude oil triples in price over the next 20 years. However, the global economic meltdown had a major impact on their success and led many to a re-think of their strategic approach.
Our next two papers consider two aspects of public sector audit. The first by Hussein Mohamed El-Nafabi considers the issue of corruption in Sudan and the important role of the Auditor General in the fight against it. The objective of this study is to address the perverse incentives for financial corruption and try to provide practical solutions. It is recognised that, as in many countries, financial corruption is deeply rooted and institutionalized and the fight against it is likely to be long and difficult. However, the paper ends with a series of recommendations to assist with this struggle.
In the next paper, Andy Wynne considers the key issue of independence for supreme audit institutions (auditors general in English speaking countries). Models of public sector ‘external’ audit type institutions are described for English and French speaking African countries. Neither approach can claim to fully meet international standards for independence, but different approaches to the provision of audit type services are considered to be acceptable. Accounts Courts and General State Inspectorates fulfill this role in different countries. This emphasises the need to understand existing systems before external models are adopted uncritically for national reform plans.
In the final substantive paper, Hassan A. G. Ouda returns to the issue of the introduction of accrual accounting. He describes a comprehensive model of the transition framework that aims at explaining the whole reform process including all relevant factors. The model takes into consideration the fact that the transition to accrual accounting is a major cultural, administrative and technical change and, in order to successfully be adopted, must take place in phases with a clear plan of progress established from the outset. However, the challenge of demonstrating the actual (as opposed to the assumed) benefits of moving to accrual accounting is not taken up in this paper.
In two relatively short articles, Michael Parry first proposes a definition of the modified cash basis of accounting and then describes the four dimensions of public financial management.
We welcome this approach of relatively short articles addressing key issues in governmental financial management and would encourage other authors to follow Michael’s example in future issues.
We would like to hear your comments on this issue and ideas for future issues, if you would like to provide a paper for future issues of the Journal please contact the Editor, Andy Wynne – email@example.com
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