The Association of Chartered Accountants (ACCA) has launched a global research, dubbed ‘50 drivers of change in the public sector’, to determine some key factors that will contribute immensely to development of the nation.
The ACCA research team initially reviewed the top-100 drivers of change in the joint ACCA-IMA 2012 research. With the help of their global forum for public-sector members, it was edited to the top-50 that were considered most relevant to the public sector.
In a report based on a global survey, roundtable events and one-on-one interviews with senior public finance leaders and other leading lights in the accountancy profession, it was revealed that the top-50 were split over eight themes.
These included the economy of a country, its politics and law, its society, the business of government, science and technology, the environment, energy and resources, and the Practice of accounting and accountancy profession in the public sector.
Out of these the top-10 was selected – which included the level of economic growth, quality and availability of the global talent pool, business leader responsiveness to change and disruption, use of public private programmes (PPP), cyber-security challenges for government, and the stability of the national revenue database.
According to the Chairman of the ACCA Ghana Network Panel, Michael Nyarko, the public sector is as complex as it is diverse – and it is not the same in any two countries. He noted that what is considered to be part of the public sector often varies from one country to another. For example, SOEs – all this highlights what a challenging environment it is.
“These were then turned into a survey that was completed by over 1,100 respondents from across the world, and we held 13 round-tables in 11 countries around the world from May 2016 to Oct 2016.”
Mr. Nyarko added that, collectively, all the above drivers will have a profound and lasting impact on the public sector in the future. How the public-sector plans for and responds to the changes will be of great importance to the sector itself – but more importantly for the citizens to whom the sector is ultimately responsible.
He noted that the public professional accountants must be able to acquire strong technical and professional skills, professional judgement, communications, leadership, management skills and vision in order to deliver effectively.
The two-year research took place from 2015 – 2017, and was conducted in the United states of America, Kenya, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, the United Kingdom and Ghana.
The Chairman added that the role of accountants is very key to the development of very nation. He advised accountants to uphold integrity and ethics at all times in order to curb situations such as ‘ghost-names’ which cost the country some GH¢400million in 2017.
He said government alone cannot be blamed for the presence of these ‘ghost names’ on the books in the public sector. According to him, accountants must take responsibility for the presence of ghost names and other fund embezzlements because they audit government documents and projects, and therefore must be able to tell the presence of ghost names.
“We cannot be part of whatever happens then, in the end, turn a blind eye to it and turn around to accuse government. Government has recruited us to help ensure that some of these things are done to the best of our ability, and this is actually what accountants are supposed to do.
“The necessary infrastructure has been laid, including our accounting standards for public sector reports. Contracts are part of our environment because they will come every day. So, as accountants you are expected to live beyond reproach and ensure that these systems which have been put in place are applied. This is the only way our professional integrity is secured. Even if we have to fall on the wrong side of the law, we know that our integrity is safeguarded,” he added.
Also present was the Global Head of Public Sector, Iain Mansfield, who advised accountants to be abreast of technology in order to move with the world. “Technology doesn’t stand still. It keeps moving, so you either keep up or drop off because it won’t wait for you. Technology can present a real opportunity, but it needs to be used by people who have the skills and willingness to use it.”
According to him, the ACCA has recently updated its qualification criteria – one of which includes digital skills, for being able to use the digital technology world is absolutely essential in creating public value for organisations.