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The Vital Role of IPSASs in the Current World Economy

James Sylph | Executive Director, Professional Standards
Oct 6, 2009 | Geneva, Switzerland | English

Thank you for inviting me here today. I would like to compliment UNCTAD on its initiative in organizing this seminar today. I would also like to personally recognize Yoseph Asmelash for his long-time, broad, and continued support of IFAC. Thank you, Yoseph.

IFAC plays a number of roles in the global financial system, although it is principally recognized for setting high-quality standards in international public sector accounting, auditing, education, and ethics through its independent boards. Our less recognized role--and one that will be even more important in the years ahead--is as the facilitator and driver of adoption and high-quality implementation. This is where IFAC can help change the game--moving from the goal of convergence to implementation of standards.

Before we can move to implementation, the world must agree on a single set of standards and stop using scarce resources debating whether there SHOULD be a single set of standards. In the case of accounting standards for the private sector, and, indeed, even for auditing standards, this debate has not yet been settled.

But in the case of public sector accounting, there is not much debate about which standards should be used. The International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) were developed by the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), under the leadership of Chairman Mike Hathorn, who will be speaking to you in a moment. The IPSASs are a complete set of high-quality standards that governments at all levels can--and should--be using to report to taxpayers, their elected legislature, and borrowers around the world.