"If countries are to achieve their economic growth targets, they need to have a well functioning and active accountancy profession"
President of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), Warren Allen, highlighted the crucial role accountants play in a country’s development at the inaugural IPA National Congress, held at the Intercontinental Sanctuary Cove from November 7-9.
IFAC works with the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the International Monetary Fund to develop regions like Sub-Saharan African where there is no active accountancy profession.
Mr. Allen said that the accountancy profession clearly has a role to play in helping governments realise their economic potential.
“The research is very catagoric: that if countries are to achieve their economic growth targets, they need to have a well functioning and active accountancy profession. They will not achieve those growth targets without the accountancy profession being established and working properly,” Mr. Allen told delegates.
Echoing Mr. Allen's statement, panel experts at a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), stressed that many developing countries lack sufficient accounting infrastructures to enable them to apply international standards.
“Building an effective accounting and reporting infrastructure requires the development of appropriate policies and regulations, a strong institutional base, and adequate resources,” UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi told conference attendees.
“One particular area of the accountancy infrastructure challenge is building the necessary human resources.”
In addition to speaking about economic problems in developing countries such as Indonesia, Samoa and Fiji, Mr. Allen said that there was much work to be done in many countries throughout Europe.
“For us accountants its hard to imagine when you go to a country like Greece or Spain or Portugal that they run a cash based system of accounting. They only record the transactions when they haven’t. They don’t have a balance sheet so they have no idea as to what assets they have or their value.
"The worst side of this story is that they have no accurate record of their liabilities or their contingencies or commitments. That’s what went wrong in countries like Greece. They delivered for years the numbers they thought the European Commission wanted to hear. It’s no wonder the public were rioting in the streets.
“It’s time that we stood up as a profession and say, ‘we can help you out’,” Mr. Allen said.
Watch Warren Allen's speech below: