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May 1, 2015

April’s leadership picks: Rob Whiteman, CIPFA

By Loukia Gyftopoulou

The news of the month through the eyes of industry leaders

The Accountant asked the heads of UK global accountancy bodies to select some news stories that caught their eye this month, and these were their picks:

For Rob Whiteman, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accounting (CIPFA), this month’s top stories had to do with two of the most topical issues in Europe: the UK General Election and Greece’s finances.

Commenting on a BBC election news round-up published on the BBC website, Whiteman said: "As the UK’s party leaders continue to argue over post-vote deals and future budget cuts, one thing becomes clear, we are facing an uncertain and unpredictable general election."

The article presented a brief overview of the week’s main political news, the leaders’ statements on Thursday’s BBC popular TV programme Question Time and the high likelihood of the election ending in a hung parliament.

But Whiteman believes the high drama of the pre-election period has overshadowed the public finances’ debate.

"A recent CIPFA and YouGov survey highlighted the lack of public trust in national politicians over spending, clarifying what we already know, that the standard of debate about the public finances has fallen well short of a true and fair representation of the fiscal challenges the country faces," he said.

"We can only hope that after the result a more honest conversation will be held."

On a not so different note, Whiteman’s second choice was a Public Finance International article by his colleague Ian Ball, who chairs CIPFA.

The piece, entitled IPSAS: the Greek elephant in the room, comments on the long-standing bad state of government accounting in Greece and explains how the new government’s failure to adopt international standards makes the country’s shabby finances worse.

"The ongoing debate in Europe over Greece’s public finances has highlighted how government accounting is rising up the global agenda," Whiteman said.

"CIPFA continue to make the case that the long-term benefits of robust, harmonized financial reporting could grow market confidence, lower borrowing costs and boost trust, not least in the Eurozone.

"Adoption of accrual based accounting and reporting could radically alter perceptions about the liabilities and assets of all governments, but especially Greece."

Rob Whiteman’s picksElection 2015: Leaders argue over post-vote dealsBBC News, 30 April 2015

IPSAS: the Greek elephant in the roomPublic Finance International, 29 July 2014By Ian Ball

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