Speaking during the official opening of the International Public Sector Accounting Standard (IPSAS) training for Provincial Government Treasuries at Malaita’s Provincial Assembly Chamber, Deputy Premier for Malaita Provincial Government, Member of Provincial Assembly for West Areare (Ward 25), Hon. Joe Heroau, stated that the IPSAS training is crucial to the consolidating and reporting of Financial Statements and recurrent budgets of the Provinces.
The Malaita Provincial Deputy Premier who doubles as Finance Minister highlighted that in the face of increasing resources from donor partners and the consistent support coming from the Ministry through the PGSP for Provinces to obtain clean audit reports as a minimum condition of the annual PCDF performance assessment, getting new knowledge to understand the IPSAS Standards, and practical skills in reporting on the requirements of the IPSAS standards are just as equally important as the Provincial FSs and budgets, he stated.
Hon. Heroau informed the Provincial Treasurers and their Deputies, that they are not only the implementers of various donor funded projects, but they are also the power house of the management of Provincial funds, and custodians of any regulatory instruments pertaining to accountability, understanding of requirements and compliance to the required reporting standard, IPSAS, which was revised in 2017 and applicable in 2019, hence the IPSAS training.
“I know that the training will be full of real practical exercises that would increase your understanding, improve your skills, encourage your participation, and cause you to share your technical expertise in the underlying concepts and principles of the Standard” he stated.
He re-emphasised that although the Provincial Governments Treasury Officers have different levels of understanding the underlying concepts of the IPSAS Standard that affect the quality of their Annual Financial Statements Reporting, he believes that the training will certainly fill the capacity gaps on the ground.
Heroau thanked the PS for MPGIS and his PGSP officials for making the training possible through funds sourced from the World Bank through the Integrated Economic Development Community Resilience project (IEDCR). He urged the Provincial Governments Treasury Officers to fully utilize the time they have in the training solely for the purpose for which the training was intended.
The Deputy Premier warmly welcomes all the Nine Provinces Treasury Officers, the Provincial Accounting Specialists, the Deputy Provincial Treasurers and the PCDA with accounting background to Malaita Province urging them to make Auki their home away from home in the next two weeks. After those few remarks, the Deputy Premier, officially declared the much awaited IPSAS training officially opened.
Speaking earlier, PS for the Ministry Stanley Dick Pirione underscored the importance of the training, citing that it is part of the series of IPSAS training being rolled out by the Ministry to all Provincial Government Treasuries to build the capacity of Provincial Officers in financial reporting. He revealed that initial efforts by the Ministry to conduct IPSAS training in each Province was hampered by the COVID – 19 outbreak which did not only restrict the movement of people but also reduced access to funding that was needed to conduct the trainings in various Provinces.
PS Pirione emphasised that the IPSAS Standard is not only a requirement in the Provincial Financial Management Ordinance (FMO) but is also an auditing requirement for both the SIG and the Nine Provincial Governments. Since the Standards are changing periodically it means the Ministry with the support of its donor partners must continue to invest in this kind of training to ensure Provincial Governments Treasury Officers who use the Standard daily are up to date with new inclusions.
The PS reiterated that IPSAS like other new concepts would require continuous support so that Provincial Treasury Officers may feel comfortable to apply the basic requirements when producing the Financial Statements where the audit requirements must also be met.
Officers from the Office of Auditor General are also in the training whose interactions with Provincial Treasury Officers are very essential to the improvement of the audit reports in the Provinces. The PS cited that most of the questions being raised by the audit could be answered directly during the interactions of the OAG Officers and the Provincial Treasury Officers in the training posing a wonderful opportunity for collaborative efforts in the interest of all.
PS Pirione added that he could see from the concept note that there is lot of intense and interactive sessions in terms of what to be covered and thus urged that questions be raised where there are doubts so that there is clarity upon returning to respective Provinces to start work on the next Financial Statements for December 2023 submission. “I am confident that the quality of the next set of Financial Statements will surely improve because of this training”, he added.
Pirione added that the training also presents an opportunity for Provinces who are still struggling in financial reporting to learn from Treasury Officers from Provinces who have made extensive progress and consistently maintaining clean audit reports. He urged them to network with their colleagues to know how they manage to improve in such a short period of time.
He reminded participants that it is not easy to have such an opportunity because of competing events at the Ministry and at the Provincial level, which is further compounded by limitation of resources. “Whilst the team is on the ground, you must take advantage of their presence”, the MPGIS PS strongly urged.
Pirione thanked Deputy Premier Heroau and the Malaita Provincial Government as a whole for allowing the Malaita Provincial Assembly facilities to be used for this important training. He however lamented the fact that the Malaita Provincial Assembly meeting had to be deferred to allow this training to take place on time in the best interest of all Nine Provinces, a gesture which he highly commended Malaita Province for. Pirione sincerely thanks Malaita Provincial Government for their understanding and continued support to ensure the training eventuates.
For the distinguished Treasury Officers from all the Nine Provinces, he thanked them as well for making it to Auki to attend this important training despite their weeks of busy schedules in their respective Provinces. It is understood that most of the Provincial Treasury Officers have already started on their Annual Budget Revisions. Pirione stated that registering their presence in the training to make sure they enhance their understanding of the IPSAS reporting framework, shows their level of commitment to gain more knowledge to improve their work performance. For this, he highly commended them.
PS Pirione thanks the World Bank IEDCR project for financially supporting the workshop with further support from UNDP and UNCDF who are also contributing to the cost of this training.
About 40 participants consisting of all Provincial Treasurers, all Deputy Provincial Treasurers, all Provincial Accountant Specialists, and some Provincial Capacity Development Advisors who have accounting background, are gathering in Auki for the IPSAS training that started yesterday 3rd of October and will continue until 13th October, 2023. Deputy Provincial Secretary for Malaita Province, David Filia Tuita was the Master of Ceremony for the official opening and is the moderator for the training.
It is a usual practice of the MPGIS to respond to PCDF assessment findings by conducting targeted trainings in minimum condition areas that are posing difficulties for the Provinces. The training on IPSAS financial reporting this month is targeted this time because of the introduction of the new IPSAS Standard called IPSAS 17. Secondly the PCDF condition requires that by 2024/25 no Province is expected to have a disclaimer of audit opinion. Any Province with disclaimer may have reduced access to the funds.
Since the audit report is based on the IPSAS Financial Statements, it is timely that the Ministry in collaboration with IEDCR, UNDP and UNCDF financed this training to provide further capacity building support to the Provincial treasuries. Other aspects of PFM and PEM highlighted in the assessment reports shall also be targeted when the new budgets are released in January 2024. The MPGIS has a policy of continuous capacity building of the Provincial Governments. This approach has so far yielded good results.
It may be recalled that so far Central Province has had three clean audit reports in a row showing consistency in performance. Isabel Province has had two clean audit reports so far and the Province is being supported to ensure it is consistent in maintaining clean audit report while Temotu Province has joined the club of qualified audit report (second best) in its 2019/20 audit report. Western and Choiseul Provinces has had qualified audit reports for almost 10 years with the former achieving qualified audit report (second best).
MPGIS Press, Auki 3rd October, 2023