Pandemic an opportunity for accountants to help improve policy, conference told

21 Oct 20

Covid-19 is an opportunity for public finance professionals to influence politicians, thereby improving public services and making economies more fair, a Public Finance Live conference session has been told.


Alan Johnson, deputy president of the International Federation of Accountants, said the sheer size of spending to meet the health and economic challenges posed by the pandemic has given public sector accountants a vital role.

“Governments around the world have launched fiscal interventions on a scale previously unimagined in order to alleviate the economic impacts of coronavirus on individuals and businesses alike,” he said.

The IMF estimates the total response sits at about $9trn – “clearly a staggering amount of money by any standard”, Johnson said.

“And our profession has become more central than ever to upholding the social and perhaps even the fiscal contract between governments and their citizens,” he added.

Johnson said public sector finance professionals are well placed to offer advice to decision-makers during a period of such uncertainty.

“Not only is there an incredibly important need to step into a greater leadership role as part of our public interest mandate. But there is also an incredible opportunity for us to help those in authority to make tough choices that are inevitably facing every country as a result of the impact of the pandemic – and, in doing so, to hopefully create a better world with stronger economies and fairer societies,” he said.

One such move would be improving accountability and transparency, because the speed of governments’ responses to the virus has often meant procedures and processes have been bypassed, Johnson said.

“Our profession should play a leading role in enhancing public sector accountability, and ensuring that investments are made to strengthen public service everywhere,” he explained.

“Strong public financial management and governance provide the bridge between today's decisions and tomorrow's realities.”

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