Welcome news recently that the Greek government has pledged to implement IPSAS. In a speech entitled "International Accounting Standards & their contribution to the confrontation of Greek debt”, the Deputy Finance Minister, Dimitris Mardas, has underlined the significance of moving to IPSAS in addressing the country’s debt crisis:
"The need to produce and analyze accounting data in a national level is urgent and imperative, especially in countries that are tested due to high public debt and fiscal deficits, given that the deficit and the public sector’s debt are determined by the stabilization of the annual public accounts. The adoption of International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) stands out as the most important step of progress and evolution in financial accounting, enhancing the transparency and credibility of public finances, while contributing to global growth and prosperity through the convergence and harmonization of public accounting systems in various countries and organizations.”
This is significant turnaround. As recently as January, the New York Times was bemoaning the lack of IPSAS in Greece, pointing out that the debt would actually smaller than was being reported if it was calculated correctly according to IPSAS. As they said at the time, "clear accounting would show the Greek debt to be lower, stabilize the country, and bring confidence to Greece and, correspondingly, to the euro.”
Well now the move to IPSAS has started but I can’t help thinking that at the current pace of change in Greece the New York Times is going to turn out to have been a little optimistic about the impact of the new standards based approach. IPSAS is good but it isn’t a miracle cure!