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The public sector is a high priority for IFAC and the global accountancy profession. Professional accountants serve the public interest, and as such, those working in the public sector have been at the heart of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, playing a critical role in advising governments.

At ICAZ, we see transparency and accountability as naturally key drivers for enhanced Public Finance Management (PFM). In turn, PAOs should be more involved in the public sector as the public sector is key driver of national economic growth.

ICAZ’s public sector initiatives are classified into the following:

1. Creating a space for knowledge-sharing and professional development among public sector personnel: The Annual Public Sector Convention is now a flagship event on ICAZ’s annual calendar. 2021 was its 5th year running and the 2021 event was the second successful virtual event.

2. Value-added services: Currently, ICAZ provides a free review of financial statements of Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) listed entities with the aim of enhancing international reporting in Zimbabwe. Beginning in 2021, this offer has been extended to other public interest entities, including those in the public sector and financials will be provided to the institute for review.

3. Public Sector Qualification: ICAZ is introducing a public sector qualification to strengthen public sector professionalization. The first students under these training offices were registered in October 2021. ICAZ already undertook a pilot program whereby selected senior members in the public sector completed the course and will become the first Public Sector Professional members of ICAZ in November 2021. It is important for an accounting practitioner to belong to a professional accounting body (especially one that adheres to the IFAC Statements of Membership Obligations) for three key reasons:

    • They will be required to subscribe to international ethical standards, reducing ills such as corruption and other ethical malpractices.
    • Their conduct will be monitored by the institute and any misconduct will be disciplined making them accountable to the professional body for their actions.
    • They will be required to continually improve themselves through continuous professional development.

4. Adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS): The government of Zimbabwe has set in motion a project to adopt the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), through the IPSAS Implementation Plan, which is expected to be completed in 2026.

To complement the government’s efforts, ICAZ introduced, in 2019, an IPSAS Certification Program to ensure that when the full adoption of IPSAS by the Zimbabwean government is implemented, all government accountants are well versed with the interpretation and application of public sector accounting standards. The IPSAS certification course is a 3-month online course designed to equip government accounting professionals with competencies on how to interpret and apply IPSAS in the preparation of government and local authority financial statements. The certificate ensures that students understand the Conceptual framework and critical accounting standards like IPSAS 1, IPSAS 23, IPSAS 24, IPSAS 33 and IPSAS 39.

Thus far, all senior accounting officials, such as finance directors in all ministries and local authorities, have undertaken the IPSAS certificate and rollout to rest of the accountants is in progress. The ICAZ Technical Hotline is also open to practical questions arising in the application of IPSAS, providing timely and reliable solutions to all technical queries.

At ICAZ, we believe that increased accountability, ethics, and integrity comes through greater professionalism and training. This in turn supports enhanced public financial management and, ultimately, economic growth and prosperity. PAOs worldwide have the opportunity to help accountancy professionals develop stronger, broader skill-sets that will enable the production of high-quality financial information, audits of this information, and the delivery of excellent financial services. ICAZ is pleased to share that we have established mechanisms to provide the IPSAS certification course to accounting professionals all over the world. For additional details, PAOs and/or public sector professionals are welcome to contact ICAZ.

Shingai Chihanya

Shingai Chihanya is the Assistant Technical Manager, Public Sector at the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ).  Previously, he worked with the Office of the Auditor General Zimbabwe.