ACCA, ANAN call for effective utilisation of public finances
Global accounting bodies, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and the Association of National Accountants of Nigeria (ANAN) have canvassed for a balance sheet approach to public finances as the way ou of inefficient utilisation of resources.
The groups, including government and the academia, which gathered recently to debate how Nigeria could best deal with the effect of the global pandemic on public sector finances, urged the sector to support businesses and households while building the foundation to ensure a sustainable and inclusive recovery.
Global head of public sector for ACCA, Alex Metcalfe, who presented the important recommendations from his professional insights report, ‘Sustainable Public Finances Through COVID-19’, said that the conventional measures governments deploy to account for their spending were not suitable ways for public sector finance professionals and decision-makers to capture the full picture and make the best decisions during the crisis.
He maintained that efficient COVID-19 recovery required a balance sheet approach, commonly found in private sector companies so that governments can fully account for their spending interventions and gain a more holistic picture of the public finances.
He submitted that it would enable public sector leaders to make better and informed decisions on how to build back economies in the most effective and sustainable way.
President of ANAN, Prof. Muhammad Mainoma, listed trust, transparency, training, tax, and tolerance as the five ‘T’s and important tools for public sector operators.
According to him, “The level of trust among the people and within the government sectors is critical if we are going to talk about sustainable development. How transparent is the system? Are the people aware and convinced that the kind of resources we are talking about is going to improve their lives? Is the information available, and is it in a way that is very simple to understand?
“Are those responsible trained on how to handle issues and then sustain the development of the frontier? What is the level of competence of those handling financial issues?
“On tax; the management of it, and the equity in it, and on tolerance level, what happens to defaulters, are they allowed to go free, or are there punishment for those that do not do the right thing?”
ACCA director for Africa, Jamil Ampomah also said the balance sheet information could improve decision making while it should act as a benchmark to discuss new policies and also support the government to use fiscal firepower to rebuild the economy for more inclusiveness and a greener future.
ANAN Council member Prof. Musa Inuwa Fodio told the conference that Nigeria was at a crossroads in terms of its next steps towards recovery, trying to balance increased revenue without causing austerity.