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European public sector signals move to international accountancy standards

A conference organised jointly by the European Commission and the Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens (FEE) yesterday concluded that International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) were essential to the development and strengthening of financial reporting by governments. David Devlin, president of FEE, the representative body of the European accountancy profession, said: ?Across Europe the public sector is responsible for about 40% of GDP. Hence, as the public sector moves from cash-based reporting to the introduction of accruals accounting, robust standards oriented to the circumstances of the public sector are essential. The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) has developed a set of high quality standards to allow sound financial reporting by governments.?

FEE, which represents more than 500,000 European accountants, has long been a supporter of the move to accruals accounting, citing greater transparency and more meaningful financial information about the operations and financial performance of the government as key benefits. It believes that with cash-based accounting information about assets and liabilities is often very limited and there is a lack of an effective balance sheet.

Brian Gray, CFO of the European Commission advocated closer connection between the accountancy profession and the public sector. ?Private sector techniques properly adapted have much to offer the public sector,? he said.

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