Public Financial Actors Challenged to Report Professionally

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Liberian comptrollers and senior accountants in the public sector have been urged to report on all public and donor funds when preparing their quarterly and annual financial statements.

The call was made on Friday, December 18, 2015 at the close of a five-day training workshop organized by USAID Governance and Economic Management Support (GEMS) Program in collaboration with the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP).

The workshop brought together about 137 comptrollers and senior accountants from various government ministries, agencies and commissions. Participants were trained to follow the basic ethics of how the Government of Liberia’s approved chart of accounts and the cash basis of accounting adopted in accordance with the Cash Basis International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) in February 2010.

Participants acknowledged the exercise will help enhance comprehensive and transparent financial reporting of cash receipts, cash payments and cash balances of the entity. In addition, it will enhance comparability with the entity’s own financial statements of previous periods and comparability with financial statements of other entities which are applicable to the cash basis of accounting.

Mr. Cytrian Kamaray, Deputy Chief of Party of USAID GEMS, who also served as one of the facilitators during the training, noted that the essence of the training was to improve public sector financial accounting.

According to him, this include preparing quarterly and annual financial reports as required by the Public Financial Management (PFM) Act of 2009 and at the same time to admonish comptrollers and senior accountants to include other public funds, as well as donor funds in their financial reports.

“What we want them get used to is to report on all public funds and donor projects; not just the all monies classified to them from the treasuries, but all monies given to them, including the donor project monies should all be included in the financial statements,” Kamaray stated.

He added that Cash Basis IPSAS will improve information about entities that use the General Purpose Financial Statement for accountability purposes and decision-making.

He informed his audience that USAID GEMS, in collaboration with the Comptroller and Accountant General’s office, has developed a proper and enhanced financial reporting template.

“In the template we brought in the donor financed project because in the past this has not been considered in our financial reporting practices,” Mr. Kamaray asserted.

He said USAID GEMS is working closely with some government ministries, agencies and commissions by providing them with accounting software which would enhance their efficiency.

Mr. Kamaray further noted that most of these entities work with the traditional Microsoft Excel software which, according to him, has some limitations.

Also speaking during the workshop, Mr. Eugene Versini, representing the office of the Comptroller and Accountant General Department of Liberia, said the training would bring about consistency in the financial reporting in government.

He stressed the need for general purpose financial statements, which the training workshop sought to address.

Mr. Versini indicated that it was imperative to conduct the training workshop because there has been change in personnel in several government ministries and agencies. He said the need to increase new staffs knowledge on the new accounting systems adopted by the government was important.

He added that the frequent change of personnel either by resignation or dismissal remains a major challenge, thereby making it necessary to periodically conduct such a training workshop.

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