The National Audit Office organised a half-day seminar for its staff on the ‘Role and
Contribution of the NAO in the implementation of Accrual Accounting across Government’.
The seminar was introduced by Charles Deguara – Auditor General, who stated that this event was part of a professional development programme undertaken by the Office, aimed at strengthening the NAO staff’s competencies. He emphasised on the need for auditors to keep abreast of developments taking place in the Maltese Public Sector, not least, those relating to financial management and financial reporting. Charles Deguara welcomed the two distinguished speakers in the event namely Ian Carruthers (Chair, International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB) and part time Chair, CIPFA Standards) and Martin Sinclair, former Assistant Auditor General at the UK National Audit Office. He conveyed his appreciation to the Deputy Auditor General, Noel Camilleri, for being the mentor of this important activity.
The introductory part of the seminar tackled a wide variety of aspects relating to the adoption and implementation of accrual accounting with the speakers drawing on their experiences and the roles they occupied during the reforms undertaken by the UK public administration in the late nineties. These included key accounting changes, preparation of the opening balance sheet, main challenges encountered and specifically, the role of the auditor in the changeover process. Furthermore, the speakers elaborated on the consolidation procedure undertaken by the UK Government.
The second half of the event focused on addressing potential NAO challenges arising from the implementation of accrual accounting by the Administration. The sessions included, inter alia, discussions on the changes in the Audit Office ‘culture’ and internal processes as well as how the NAO would manage the use of accrual data alongside cash budgeting. The manner in which the NAO would support Parliament (mainly the Public Accounts Committee) during the transition period was extensively discussed.
At the end of the event, Mr Noel Camilleri, Deputy Auditor General thanked Mr Carruthers and Mr Sinclair for their invaluable insight into the subject matter,the participants for their active participation and Mr Deguara for his unreserved support for the initiative. He reaffirmed his belief that through exposure to high calibre experts such as Messrs Carruthers and Sinclair, the NAO would continue to build capacity and expertise in highly specialised and technical areas of public audit.