Jamaica still wants to move to accruals, says auditor general

26 Apr 18

Accrual accounting is “fundamental for informed decision-making”, Jamaica’s auditor general has said, as she called for greater adoption of international accountancy standards.

The country has been trying to move to accruals accounting since 2012 and Pamela Monroe Ellis said it was still hoping to make the transition.

“This is where we want to move,” she said. “It [accruals accounting] is fundamental for informed decision-making,” the auditor general said, adding that it results in a more accurate representation of financial results.

Monroe Ellis said accrual accounting was preferable to cash accounting, which is currently used by Jamaica’s central government and some public sector entities in the country.

She explained the use of international standards in the public sector would improve transparency and accountability. 

Jamaica adopted accruals in 2012 but backtracked after the finance ministry experienced technical and cultural difficulties, the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Jamaica said.

Both cash-basis and accrual accounting systems are being used in the country, though the Ministry of Finance has not adopted IPSAS.

There is a plan to incorporate accrual accounting into the national system but the timeline for adoption is unclear, the International Federation of Accountants said on its website.  

The auditor general, who also serves as the secretary general for the Caribbean Organisation of Supreme Audit Institutions (CAROSAI), spoke at a conference in New Kingston earlier this month.

At the conference, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) was signed between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of the Caribbean (ICAC) and CAROSAI to initiate a partnership between the two.

The partnership will aim to support improved public sector accountability through collaborative research, exchange of knowledge and experience and the promotion of international standards and best practices in the accountancy profession.

Monroe Ellis said the memorandum “provides an opportunity for greater synergies in advocacy through a combination of professional expertise as well as influence”, which will lead to stronger public financial management and governance.

The general manager of the Inter-American Development Bank Country Department, Therese Turner-Jones also said at the conference that the work done by the accountancy profession was “very important”.

A 2017 study found that almost all Caribbean nations have developed IPSAS or are in the process of doing so.

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