Urgent action required from commonwealth countries


Steve Freer, Chief Executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) has said that urgent action is required by Commonwealth public finance leaders to help tackle the current financial crisis and to help avoid the next one.

Speaking at a Commonwealth Secretariat event held at CIPFA’s headquarters in London, Mr Freer said that the biggest challenge facing the accountancy profession right now is the quality of Government reporting, auditing and financial management.

Delegates at the event included accountants, auditors-general, and other public officials from 18 Commonwealth countries. They examined the merits, and shared their experiences and challenges, of moving towards International Public Sector Accounting Standards.

In his speech, Mr Freer highlighted the problems caused by poor public financial management,

“As we all know, markets hate uncertainty. But what could be more uncertain than the financial position of a Government entering into complex bail out transactions whilst maintaining its accounting on a cash abacus?”

He also pointed to the consequences of failing to address these problems and challenges, saying,

“When Government finances go seriously wrong, significant consequences follow. Public spending and public serves have to be cut back; economies begin to nose dive; unemployment starts to rise; and austerity comes to call.”

Finally, issuing a rallying call to public finance leaders he said,

“It is time for our profession, and us as its leaders, to bring all of our collective influence to bear and to take our share of responsibility to make change happen.”



CIPFA Press Office

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Notes to Editors:

The conference was held at the CIPFA Conference Centre in London, UK between June 18 and June 20. It was sponsored by the Commonwealth Secretariat’s Governance and Institutional Development Division and Commonwealth Fund for Technical Co-operation in collaboration with CIPFA, the African Capacity Building Foundation, Ernst & Young, the Public Expenditure and Financial Accountability Secretariat and the International Public Sector Standards Board.


CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, is the professional body for people in public finance. Our 14,000 members work throughout the public services, in national audit agencies, in major accountancy firms, and in other bodies where public money needs to be effectively and efficiently managed. As the world’s only professional accountancy body to specialise in public services, CIPFA’s portfolio of qualifications are the foundation for a career in public finance. They include the benchmark professional qualification for public sector accountants as well as a postgraduate diploma for people already working in leadership positions. They are taught by our in-house CIPFA Education and Training Centre as well as other places of learning around the world. We also champion high performance in public services, translating our experience and insight into clear advice and practical services. They include information and guidance, courses and conferences, property and asset management solutions, consultancy and interim people for a range of public sector clients. Globally, CIPFA shows the way in public finance by standing up for sound public financial management and good governance. We work with donors, partner governments, accountancy bodies and the public sector around the world to advance public finance and support better public services. This includes the development of local professional qualifications in African countries like Lesotho and Nigeria and in Europe in post conflict states in the Balkans.