03 June 2020
Accountancy Europe has analysed short-term and long-term actions that could support the public sector in countering the pandemic's impact, among them many actions with regard to transparency and reporting.
Accountancy Europe notes that the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in rapid deployment of government financial resources and development of support programmes. As governments should be very transparent about the effects of this, the recommended short-term actions include:
- Controls over public sector expenditure have been relaxed. It is essential that governments are transparent as to the amount of funds received by beneficiaries and that such payments are retrospectively audited to ensure they have been correctly used.
- Public sector entity reporting and auditing requirements may need to be temporarily relaxed in certain circumstances. But transparency is important, and they should report what truly matters.
- Central governments should urgently provide guidance for public sector entities on reporting of going concern, post balance sheet events and management commentary.
Accountancy Europe also notes that it will not be business as usual once the crisis is over and that governments should seize the opportunity to drive forward programmes that support long-term fiscal resilience. The recommended long-term actions, therefore, include:
- Public sector balance sheets will be more important than ever with public sector assets and liabilities set to balloon.
- Post coronavirus crisis, the public sector finances will need to be restored and economies will need a kick-start. Robust accruals-based accounts provide the foundation necessary for forward looking estimates and economic models.
- Governments will need record levels of borrowing, much of it from open markets, and investors will want to see reliable, internationally comparable and timely information. Adopting internationally recognised public sector accounting standards (IPSAS) would provide such foundations.