April 1999 Issue


The International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and various international lending and development agencies have agreed to form the International Forum on Accounting Development. This new forum will bring together the profession and international financial institutions (IFIs) to develop programs to enhance accountability, transparency, and accounting practices generally in those countries with the greatest needs.

"The matter is urgent," IFAC President Frank Harding said. "The crises of the past 18 months have shown that the economic situation in one country reverberates worldwide. The rapid flow of speculative and investment capital aggravate already fragile situations--putting developing countries and their investors at risk. Proper accountability at all levels in these countries is the key to restoring confidence now and for the future."

Membership in the forum will be offered to the IFIs (international lending and development agencies and bilateral governmental funding organizations) as well as certain international service providers. With IFAC in the lead, the accounting profession will also be represented by four regional organizations in Africa, the Americas, Europe, and Asia/the Pacific.

The group will focus on providing guidance for use by governments, business, and the accounting profession worldwide, especially in developing and emerging economies. Much of the technical guidance already exists in the pronouncements of IFAC and the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC). In addition, the forum will address issues related to building accounting infrastructures and to developing objective reporting.

Two papers will be developed for discussion at the forum's inaugural meeting in June in New York. The first will deal with some of the existing cultural and related barriers to using proper accountability and transparency standards. The second will lay out the financial/governance framework necessary to enable the profession to effectively provide credible financial and other information in a nation. A key goal is promoting understanding among governments as to the value of transparent financial reporting.

"We now have a clear path for action," IFAC Director General John Gruner said. "The potential for success is strong, because we have the combined commitment of a diverse group of organizations all working in the public interest. A strong accounting profession will assist economic and social development, and that is clearly in the public interest."

IFAC is the worldwide organization for the accounting profession. Its current membership consists of 142 professional accounting bodies in 103 countries, representing more than two million accountants in public practice, education, government, and industry. *

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