AN INVESTIGATION ON THE CHALLENGES OF ADOPTION OF IPSAS
(INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC SECTOR ACCOUNTING STANDARD)
IN GOVERNMENT MINISTRIES, AGENCIES AND DEPARTMENT.
(CASE STUDY OF KWARA STATE MINISTRY OF FINANCE, AGENCIES AND CORPORATION)
- BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
Over the years, countries of the world have defined and set the standards of financial reporting in their individual territories. However, globalization has brought about ever increasing collaboration, international trade and commerce among the countries of the world; hence, there is grave need for increased uniformity in the standards guiding financial statements so that such statement would remain comprehensible and convene the same information to users across the world. The need for the development of unified accounting standards has been the primary driver of international public sector Accounting Standards for public sector financial reporting. While the commercial entities across the world are moving toward international financial Reporting standards (IFRS), governments are harmonizing with International Public sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS). The international Public sector Accounting Standards govern the accounting by public sector entities, with the exception of Government Business Enterprises.
According to Hayfron Adoagye (2012), IPSAS are high quality global financial reporting standards for application by public sector entities other than government business enterprises and being issued by international public sector accounting standard board IPSAS B which is formerly known and called public sector committee. IPSASB’s a body of International Federation of Accounting (IFAC) with autonomy to develop and issue IPSAS. In a study conducted by John (2011) he revealed that IPSAS Board comprises of 18 members, out of which 15 are nominated by the member bodies of IFAC while the other three are appointed as public members whom may be appointed by any individual or organization.
Furthermore, the Nigerian society has been filled with stories of wrong practices such as stories of ghost workers on the pay roll of Ministries, Extra-ministerial Departments and Parastatals, frauds, embezzlements and setting ablaze of offices housing sensitive documents and corruption leading to none or poor accountability of individuals in public offices of the country.
One of the most researched and least understood variables in public sector accounting of the nation is how the accountability and stewardship of financial controls are conducted. Scholars have been speculating on how the funds generated are managed but now researchers through the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) have conducted systematic investigation of funds and leakages in Nigeria with direct reference to ministries, departments and agencies.
Even with this, there is still an increasing difficulty and doubts in establishing the fact that the generated revenues are put to good use by individuals in public offices. This work contains also an evaluation of the source of revenue and the impact of the financial control system in the ministries, departments and agencies particularly.
IPSAS are accounting standards for application by national governments, regional (e.g., state, provincial, territorial) governments, local (e.g., city, town) governments and related governmental entities (e.g., agencies, boards and commissions). IPSAS standards are widely used by intergovernmental organizations. IPSAS do not apply to government business enterprises.
International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) is at present the focal point of global revolution in government accounting in response to calls for greater government financial accountability and transparency. The Public sector comprises entities or Organizations that implement public policy through the provision of services and the redistribution of income and wealth, with both activities supported mainly by Compulsory tax/levies on other sectors. This comprises governments and all publicly owned, controlled and or publicly funded agencies, enterprises, and other entities of government that deliver public programs, goods, or services. Public Sector Accounting is a system or process which gathers, records, classifies and summarizes as reports the financial events existing in the public or government sector as financial statements and interprets as required by accountability and financial transparency to provide information to information users associated to public institutions. It is interested in the receipts, custody, disbursement and rendering of stewardship of public funds entrusted.
International Public Sector Accounting Standards
International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) are a full suite of standards, designed for the public sector set by an independent, international standard setter. IPSAS is held up as the best government accounting ideas that the global accounting profession has to offer. IPSAS therefore has become recognized benchmark for evaluating and improving government accounting in developing countries. IPSAS are primarily intended for adoption by developing countries. The World Bank for example has endorsed the use of IPSAS in accounting for its financial assistance to developing countries. IFAC believes that in order to change the paradigm for government reporting, governments should adopt the accrual-based IPSASs, set by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB).Over 40 Countries apply Accrual IPSAS (Kara, 2012).
In recent years, the IPSAS Board has addressed developing countries in two ways. First, it issued a set of comprehensive “cash basis IPSAS” in 2003 which were more closer to traditional Government Accounting practice and are less costly to implement. Secondly, the IPSAS board has issued the standard on the disclosure of external assistance under the cash basis of accounting. The cash basis standard excludes the recognition of grants receivable and loans payable, and other non-cash assets and liabilities (IFAC, 2005).
1.2. STATEMENT OF PROBLEM
Looking at the previous years, cash basis of accounting is observed to be the commonly used basis in the public sector which has some limitations and setbacks that affects financial transactions such as poor budget implementation, mismanagement of public fund etc. This can be traced to the fact that while using the cash basis of accounting, there is no attempt to match an expense with the revenue it generates. This means that income statement and balance sheet are not good pictures of recent business conditions and an expense written against specific revenue may not have been incurred for generating the revenue. This creates the issue of poor budget implementation, making it necessary to consider the relationship between public sector budgeting and cash basis of accounting.
The preparation and presentation of financial statement at each level of government have pose series of problems worldwide. Over the years, government accounting has been anchored on cash basis of accounting while private sector accounting has been predicated on accrual basis. Whereas the accrual basis has been working perfectly well in the private sector, the continued application of the cash basis in the public sector appears to have thrown up a number of challenges relating to under-utilization of scarce resources, high degree of vulnerability to manipulation, lack of proper accountability and transparency, inadequate disclosure requirement due to the fact that the cash basis of accounting does not offer a realistic view of financial transaction.
IPSAS adoption is expensive in all material respect, so expensive that some experts have contended that it’s much advertised benefits do not justify the cost of the implementation predominantly accounting or financial reporting places emphasis on accountability and transparency. Revolution is not only accorded to government functional activities, instead revolution also exists in Government Accounting.
It is of necessity to note that a complete budget protocol entails effective planning, monitoring and implementation of recurrent and capital proposals. But regrettably, the budgeting culture in Nigeria mostly begins and ends with planning alone. Oversight functions carried out by the legislative arm of government in the past as it concerns budget monitoring have been nothing but mere window dressing. This fact has helped to condemn budgets as mere annual rituals. Poor budget implementation in Nigeria is a huge indictment on both the executive and legislative arms of government at the local, state and federal level which can be traced to the implication of cash basis of accounting as a technique for recording financial transactions in the public sector, (Gberegbe and Micah 2013).
It is against this backdrop that this study seeks to investigate the challenges encountered in the implementation of IPSAS by government ministries, agencies and government.
- OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
Interestingly, a sound government accounting standard such as IPSAS is a critical part of a nation’s institutional infrastructure. It has now become a recognised benchmark for evaluating and improving government accounting in most developing countries like Nigeria. As a result of this the objectives if this study includes the following:
- Examines the effect of adopting International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) in Government agencies and ministries.
- Identify the challenges of migrating to Accrual Basis IPSAS in public sector.
- Examine the constraint encountered in the implementation of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) in government mistries and agencies.
- Determine how IPSAS improve the quality of general purpose financial reporting by public sector entities.