South Africa is set to implement 17 accrual-based public sector
accounting standards within the next year.

The standards will apply to all public sector entities and lead
to enhanced financial reporting, transparency and accountability,
according to Patrick Kabuya, the project director for public sector
and Africa at the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants

Kabuya said the application of the standards, which were
developed by South Africa’s Accounting Standards Board and recently
approved by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, will conclude an
accounting standards reform process that started in 2003. He added
the implementation will make South Africa one of the few countries
in the world to adopt accrual-based standards in the public sector.
The standards are modelled on International Public Sector
Accounting Standards.

Kabuya explained the principles in the public sector standards
reflect the government’s objective of focusing on service delivery,
in contrast to the private sector’s aim of increasing shareholder

“The ultimate outcome will not only enhance service delivery to
the South Africa public. It will, in addition, help to mitigate
corruption through heightened management and control of the public
sector’s assets and liabilities,” he said.

The application of the standards in all public sector entities
will generate quality and complete information on assets,
liabilities, revenue and expenditure, Kabuya added.

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“In consequence, taxpayers will have a far better idea of the
public sector’s income and outgo, assets and liabilities,” he

The process of implementing the new accounting standards will
not be straightforward, Kabuya said: “The challenges it presents
will require strong partnerships between public sector entities and
various institutions.”

SAICA, alongside the government, is stepping up training to
cater for the increased public sector regulation.

The institute’s Training Outside Public Practice programme is
helping develop public sector accountants. Its successes have
included increasing the number of qualified chartered accountants
in the Auditor General’s office from six to 120 in five years.

“Most encouragingly, there are some 271 CAs in training, 114 of
whom are black,” Kabuya concluded.