Abu-Ghazaleh: Implementing IPSAS as a tool to develop public finance and accounting


At the regional and international levels


RAMALLAH – The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC) in cooperation with the World Bank held an international digital conference, dedicated to the MENA region, to discuss means of improving financial management in the public sector in the region.


During the conference, participants discussed the mechanisms and challenges of applying the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), and the transition from cash-based accounting to accrual-based accounting.


Member of the Board of Directors and representative of the International Arab Society of Certified Accountants (IASCA) in Palestine, Mr. Jamal Milhem , participated in the conference, in his capacity as a member of the Professional Accountancy Organization Development & Advisory Group (PAODAG), and Head of the Working Group for the Development of Professional Institutions in the Middle East and North Africa at IFAC.


More than a thousand participants including professionals, academics, representatives of professional associations, government agencies, and others concerned with public finance from various countries worldwide took part in the Conference.


The participants touched upon several topics related to the adoption and application of International Education Standards (IES) and the transition towards the application of IPSAS in the MENA region.


For his part, Mr. Milhem reviewed the best practices for transforming and shifting from cash-based accounting to accrual-based accounting. The presentation of the program was shared with Ms. Dana Jensen, Quality and Development manager at the Federation’s MENA region. Moreover, it highlighted challenges of the transition and implementation of IPSAS; most notably those related to legislation and regulations of the profession. That is in addition to the necessary financial cost of transformation, as well as technical challenges, knowledge-building and qualification of technical staff working in various departments and units within the public sector.


According to Mr. Milhem and Ms. Jensen, the program also included several solutions and strategies for facing the challenges, in order to facilitate the process of transition and transformation to IPSAS, which at the same time, aims at establishing partnerships between the public and private sectors, leveraging from the successful experience of some countries; atop of them is Jordan’s outstanding experience in this field which ranked on top according to the presentation.


The Society’s specialized working teams organized several workshops and awareness lectures to introduce these standards, and explain the mechanism of transitioning from national government standards to these standards, in addition to holding regional conferences and organizing Science Days at universities, government entities, and relevant authorities.


It is worth mentioning that IASCA, represented by its Chairman of the Board of Directors, HE Dr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, contributed, through its leading role in serving the profession by periodically translating IPSAS, posting translations and related updates on its website, and including topics related to the public sector within the training courses its offers. The Society also launched an international accounting standards in public sector expert certificate.


During the Conference, Mr. Milhem and the participants expressed their gratitude to Dr. Abu-Ghazaleh for his efforts in providing the required capabilities and support aimed at increasing the effectiveness of professional institutions, as well as to the professional role the Society plays in the Arab region.


The participants emphasized that the adoption of International Education Standards (IES) faces a number of challenges, most notably the lack of knowledge and information pertaining to these standards; since the final assessment of these standards constitutes a challenge to some bodies and universities in many countries, not to mention there is a shared responsibility for teaching accounting between the public and private sectors.


It should be noted that an international survey was recently published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) and IFAC on the public sector accountability index. The survey which revealed that 30% of the world’s countries used the accrual basis in the public sector in 2020, constituting an 8% increase compared to 2018. It also demonstrated expectations for an increase in the percentage of countries applying the accrual basis to 50% of the world’s countries by 2025, and 70% by 2030.


The Conference also reviewed the experiences of a number of Arab countries that are working seriously to integrate these standards into the accounting education curricula at universities, community colleges and educational institutes, the most prominent of which are:

  • The experience of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, presented by Mr. Mousa Al-Sindah , member of the Board of Directors of the Jordanian Association of Certified Public Accountants (JACPA), in cooperation with the Higher Council for the Accounting Profession (HCAP), headed by Minister of Industry and Trade.

  • The experience of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, presented by Dr. Musab Al-Juaid, executive director of the Saudi Organization for Chartered and Professional Accountants (SOCPA), as well as Dr. Mohammad Nurunnabi, president of the Accounting Department at Prince Sultan University.

  • The experience of the United Arab Emirates, presented by HE Ms. Amna Abdulaziz Al Mahri, general manager of the Emirates Association of Accountants and Auditors (AAA).


    It is worth mentioning that the International Federation of Accountants is a global organization for the accounting profession, that aims to serve the public interest in promoting the accounting profession and contributing to the development of strong international economies. It has more than 180 members and associations in more than 130 countries and jurisdictions, representing approximately 3 million accountants in general practice, education, government services, industry and performance.


    The International Arab Society of Certified Accountants (IACPA) was established as a non-profit professional accounting body in 1984 in London – United Kingdom. It was officially registered in Amman on February 24, 1994, to advance the science of accounting, auditing and other related topics across member states of the League of Arab Nations, in addition to preserving the professional independence of accountants, and ensuring their protection, and applying professional supervision standards to them.