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(New York, New York, November 22, 2011)

The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the global organization for the accountancy profession with members and associates in 127 countries, last week held its 34th Ordinary Council Meeting in Berlin, Germany. As part of the meeting, IFAC held its annual seminar—which this year focused on Accounting for Crisis: Public and Private Sector Perspectives.

The seminar featured high-profile speakers from organizations including the World Bank, EUROSTAT, the European Court of Auditors, the New Zealand Treasury, and the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy. The sovereign debt crisis was the focus of the seminar, with discussions held also on financial management for natural disasters, and public sector accounting.

“Transparency and accountability was one of the key demands of the French Revolution, as well as the key demand of the protesters in the Arab Spring,” commented Prof. Dr. Andreas Bergmann, chair of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board, during the seminar.

Ian Ball, chief executive officer of IFAC, reminded the audience that, as early as 2007, IFAC stated that it “is concerned that the standards and regulations governing sovereign issuers are not of sufficient quality to protect investors and ensure the stability of capital markets.”

Speakers focused on government accountability to the financial markets; the need for a common language for fairly describing and assessing the fiscal position of a public entity; the potential of sovereign securities being targets of market abuse, such as insider trading and market manipulation; and the fact that developed countries—not just developing countries—need to make changes.

IFAC is planning a follow-up seminar—The Sovereign Debt Crisis, a Matter of Urgency―from Lessons to Reform—March 19-20, 2012, in Vienna, Austria. The seminar so far has 14 confirmed speakers, including: Vincenzo LaVia, World Bank Group; Göran Persson, Former Prime Minister of Sweden; James Turley, Ernst & Young; Nicolas Véron, Peterson Institute for International Economics; and Hon. David Walker, Comeback America Initiative and Former Comptroller General of the U.S.

“One of the vital features of IFAC is our ability to bring together ideas and insights from 167 member bodies from every region of the world,” said Göran Tidström, president of IFAC. “These presentations and discussions regarding a critical current issue—the sovereign debt crisis and the need for transparent and reliable accounting in the public sector—are an essential factor in forming our collective voice and striving to improve global financial stability, in the public interest.”

Highlights from the Council meeting will be accessible on IFAC’s website in the coming weeks.

About IFAC
IFAC is the global organization for the accountancy profession dedicated to serving the public interest by strengthening the profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. IFAC is comprised of 167 members and associates in 127 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.

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Jennifer DiClerico
Head of Communications

Prepared by IFAC's Communications Department. Contact communications@ifac.org for further information.
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