IPSASB Publishes First Recommended Practice Guideline on the Long-Term Sustainability of Public Finances

Jul 24, 2013 | New York, New York | English

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) has issued Recommended Practice Guideline 1 (RPG 1), Reporting on the Long-Term Sustainability of an Entity’s Finances. RPG 1 provide guidance on reporting on the long-term sustainability of a public sector entity’s finances over a specified time horizon in accordance with stated assumptions on policy and demographic and economic variables.   RPGs are a new type of publication that provides guidance on the broader aspects of financial reporting that are outside the financial statements.

The sovereign debt crisis brought into sharp focus the importance of the fiscal condition of governments and other public sector entities to the global economy. Concerns persist about the ability of governments to meet debt servicing obligations. The extent to which governments can maintain their current levels and quality of service delivery and meet social benefit program obligations—without raising taxes and contributions or increasing debt to unsustainable levels—is a major economic and social issue.

Although such concerns have generally existed in nations with well-established social programs, there is a growing realization that they also extend to fast-developing nations that have recently established such programs.

Policies and decisions current as of the reporting date have a long-term impact on future inflows and outflows of resources. Information on the consequences of such policies and decisions supplements information on liabilities, expenses, assets, and revenue in the financial statements. Flows that are captured by long-term fiscal sustainability reporting include:

  • Future tax receipts and intergovernmental transfers that do not meet the definition of an asset
  • Obligations relating to social benefits programs that do not meet the definition of a liability

“RPG 1 provides straightforward guidance on presenting information about the capacity of an entity to provide social benefits at existing levels, to maintain existing taxation revenues and to meet its financial commitments,” said IPSASB Chair Andreas Bergmann. “By developing guidance on reporting information about the long-term sustainability of an entity’s finances, RPG 1 reflects the IPSASB Conceptual Framework’s position that, in order to meet users’ needs, the scope of financial reporting is more comprehensive than the financial statements.”

The development  and finalization of the RPG benefited greatly from the oversight of a task force with a wide membership, including representatives of (a) standard setters with involvement in developing guidance for reporting on fiscal condition, (b) governments that have many years’ experience reporting on long-term fiscal sustainability, and (c) supranational organizations such as the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, and Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union.

How to Obtain the RPG
To access the RPG, visit the IPSASB website. The IPSASB encourages IFAC members, associates, and regional accountancy bodies to promote the availability of these documents to their members and employees.


About the IPSASB
The IPSASB develops accounting standards and guidance for use by public sector entities. The structures and processes that support the operations of the IPSASB are facilitated by IFAC. The IPSASB receives support (both direct financial and in-kind) from the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, the South African Accounting Standards Board, and the governments of Canada, New Zealand, and Switzerland.

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. It is comprised of 173 members and associates in 129 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.5 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.


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