IPSASB Publishes Consultation Paper on Recognition and Measurement of Social Benefits

Jul 29, 2015 | New York, New York | English

The International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board® (IPSASB®) today released for comment a Consultation Paper (CP), Recognition and Measurement of Social Benefits.

The delivery of social benefits to the public is the primary objective of most governments and social benefits often account for a large proportion of a government’s budget. There is an opportunity for the IPSASB to improve its suite of standards by developing an International Public Sector Accounting Standard™ (IPSAS™) on social benefits. This CP asks constituents for their views on the different approaches identified.

“Users need information that allows them to evaluate the financial impact of the social benefits that governments provide,” said IPSASB Chair Andreas Bergmann. “The IPSASB considers there is a major need for guidance in this area. This Consultation Paper is the first step in achieving appropriate reporting of social benefits. We look forward to receiving constituents’ views on the options we have identified.”

This CP builds on the IPSASB’s previous work on accounting for social benefits while also developing new ideas. It defines social benefits as “benefits provided to individuals and households, in cash or in kind, to mitigate the effect of social risks.” The definitions of social benefits and social risks are consistent with those used in statistical reporting. The scope of the social benefits project includes social assistance and social security, but excludes programs that form part of an employer-employee relationship, other transfers in kind, and collective goods and services such as the provision of universal health care and education services. Consequently, this project has a significantly narrower scope than the IPSASB’s earlier work in this area.

The CP identifies three broad options to account for social benefits:

  • Option 1: The obligating event approach. This approach considers social benefits by reference to the definition of a liability in The Conceptual Framework for General Purpose Financial Reporting by Public Sector Entities. Obligations to pay social benefits are seen as no different from other obligations. The key issue is when a present obligation arises.
  • Option 2: The social contract approach. This option is based on the view that there is an imputed social contract between the state and the citizens. Under this social contract, citizens agree to pay taxes to enable the state to provide social benefits. This is analogous to an executory contract for commercial transactions. Obligations are recognized when they become enforceable (or when claims for social benefits are approved).
  • Option 3: The insurance approach. This approach considers that some social benefits are similar in practice to insurance contracts. It uses an insurance accounting model to measure schemes at the net present value of their cash inflows and outflows.

How to Comment
To access the Consultation Paper and the At-a-Glance summary of the Consultation Paper, or to submit a comment, please visit the IPSASB website at www.ipsasb.org/. Comments on the Consultation Paper are requested by January 31, 2016. The IPSASB encourages IFAC® members, associates and regional accountancy bodies to promote the availability of this Consultation Paper to their members and employees.

About the IPSASB
The IPSASB develops accounting standards and guidance for use by public sector entities. It 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. The structures and processes that support the operations of the IPSASB are facilitated by IFAC.

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 more than 175 members and associates in 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 2.8 million accountants in public practice, education, government service, industry, and commerce.

 

 
 

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