By Gillian Fawcett, head of public sector, ACCA
ACCA’s fourth International Public Sector Conference ‘Rebalancing the economy – boosting growth’ held on 13 December 2012 focused on what the future holds for the public sector and how to account for it.
In a time when sovereign debt issues are prominent around the world and the measures taken to resolve the crisis have been described as no more than dispensing a ‘financial aspirin’, the conference provided a timely opportunity to consider how the economy can be rebalanced and how public services can help boost growth. You can view webcasts of the conference to find out more about what a range of high profile speakers had to say on the state of the economy, sustainable public finances and financial reporting.
- Carl Emmerson, deputy director, Institute of Fiscal Studies
- Gary Gillespie, director and chief economist for Scotland’s government
- Mario Marcel, deputy director of the Public Governance and Territorial Development Directorate, OECD
- Fabian Zuleeg, chief economist, European Policy Centre
- Brian Quinn, director, Loan Department, World Bank
- Richard Hughes, economist, IMF
- Alexandre Makaronidis, head of unit – GFS quality management and government accounting at DG Eurostat.
The first half of the conference focused on the economic outlook and trends. We heard from Emmerson that we are in for eight more years of financial pain. Quinn stated that liquidity drying up and the on-going lack of confidence is having a lasting knock on effect. He went on to highlight that inadequate government financial reporting practices have contributed to the depth and longevity of the current downturn. However, he pointed to a ray of hope as governments are beginning to re-examine their financial reporting practices.
The second part of the day focused on how to re-build an effective economy, introduce greater transparency of public spending and explore how public services can contribute to boosting economic growth, both internationally and at local levels. Hughes set the scene by highlighting the importance of fiscal transparency providing clarity and reliability to the public of the government’s fiscal policy-making process. All expectations are that the crisis will be lasting, so we need the best possible information about the state of government finances.
Overall, it was positive to see finance professionals, economists and statisticians sharing views on and thoughts on how best to deal with the economic crisis and put public services on a sure footing!