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Global Accounting Bodies Launch New Tool for Governments Grappling with Fiscal Impact of COVID-19 Interventions

Jul 22, 2020 | English

Translations of this press release are available in: French, Russian, Spanish

Today, the International Federation of Accountant (IFAC) and the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW), in partnership with the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), have published a practical accounting tool for governments and other interested stakeholders to help analyze COVID-19 intervention programs.

With more than $9 trillion spent by governments globally on fiscal interventions in the past three months, the effect of the pandemic on public finances will be both immediate and long-lasting. Understanding the design of these interventions, how they are delivered and funded, as well as their impact on the financial position of governments, is critical to manage current challenges and secure sustainable public finances in the future.

“Government accounting is not the first priority that comes to mind when people think about the current pandemic. Yet, there’s evidence that having a comprehensive and well-managed balance sheet supports strong public programs, including for healthcare and economic wellbeing,” said Alta Prinsloo, IFAC Executive Director. “It’s never too late for countries to adopt accounting best practices, including accrual-based International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), and we hope this guidance will help governments make the case for doing so.”

The COVID-19 Intervention Assessment Tool includes:

  • A step-by-step process and assessment tool to help assess, evaluate, and inform various types of government interventions related to the pandemic;
  • An overview of the pathway to accrual IPSAS for governments.

“By utilizing accrual accounting, governments can gain a more complete understanding of their financial standing and ability to recover from the impacts of the pandemic,” said Andreas Bergmann, Professor of Public Finance at the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW). “This will not be the last time governments will need to act to mitigate an economic crisis and accrual accounting also helps designing economic interventions in a sustainable way.”

IFAC and ZHAW remain committed to advocating for, and supporting, strong public financial management in economies globally. This tool is the latest effort to support the adoption and implementation of IPSAS and accrual accounting in the public sector.

About IFAC
The International Federation of Accountants (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 more than 175 members and associates in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing more than 3 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.

About the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)
Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW) was founded in 1874 in Winterthur/Switzerland and nowadays includes eight disciplinary schools. The ZHAW School of Management & Law is the largest business school in Switzerland and only one of four which are internationally accredited by AACSB. Public Financial Management has been part of its curriculum for more than 50 years and became a key area of research in 1996.