World Bank Group Ministerial Conference on ‘High Quality Financial Information & Economic Integration’
Leaders Commit to the Development of High-Quality Financial Information to Help Boost Economic Development
About 300 delegates including ministers of finance, senior government experts, and representatives of the business, professional and academic communities gathered on 27 November 2018 to discuss the role financial information plays in supporting economic development, regional and global integration of economies, and convergence of income and living standards between poorer and richer countries. The conference took place under the auspices of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union and was organized by the World Bank’s Centre for Financial Reporting Reform (CFRR)*.
Addressing the audience on behalf of the Austrian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Hartwig Löger, Austria's Minister of Finance, said that
“as a long term partner of the CFRR, the Austrian government is excited to see the strong interest and continued level of commitment from the countries represented today to achieving reform in their public and private sector financial reporting systems. The Austrian Ministry of Finance contributes to advancing the closer integration with our neighbours, by supporting selected programmes of the World Bank Group that are focusing on the ECA region and the Western Balkans in particular.”
Cyril Muller, World Bank Vice President for Europe and Central Asia, continued:
“The European Union offers powerful examples on how economic integration can help propel growth in poorer and newer member states. While integration can help these countries boost their income and living standards, convergence with richer economies is not automatic. Policy makers must equip their citizens and enterprises to compete through transparent and effective public initiatives to build skills and competitiveness. High-quality financial information for the public and private sectors can help governments deliver on these initiatives with accountability and efficiency, while improving access to finance.”
Conference participants discussed how countries can earn the confidence of their citizens by strengthening their institutions and creating a regulatory environment that facilitates fair and open competition, reduces undue burdens on business, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, facilitates access to finance, and delivers needed public services efficiently. Effective financial management and good governance in both the private and public sectors helps make institutions become more transparent, accountable and trusted.
Policy makers are well aware of their role in embracing and implementing effective legal frameworks and regulations. A high-level panel discussion with ministers of finance from Kosovo, and Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia confirmed the main conference messages and discussed specific initiatives under way.
Speaking about his country’s recent experience, Bedri Hamza, Minister of Finance of Kosovo, said that
“the redrafting of the law on accounting, auditing and financial reporting in a way that also reflects the local environment and conditions has been a great achievement for Kosovo and there are ongoing efforts to strengthen the capacity of the Kosovar Oversight Institution and set up a quality assurance system”.
Dragan Tevdovski, Minister of Finance of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, highlighted that
“the country enacted a new audit legislation that established a professional institution for statutory auditors and initiated a quality assurance system for the audit profession, which are excellent achievements. Ongoing amendments to the law on performance of accountancy services and work to strengthen the capacity of the Institute of Accountants and Certified Accountants is high on our priority agenda with the intention to significantly improve the quality of financial information data in our country”.
Discussions also included the impact of digital innovation on generation, dissemination, verification, and use of financial information; new opportunities to create more transparency and accountability in the public and private sectors; and the role international standards play in economic and financial integration.
*The event was organized as part of the programmes Public-Sector Accounting and Reporting (PULSAR), Road to Europe: Program of Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening (EU-REPARIS), and Strengthening Auditing and Reporting in the Countries of the Eastern Partnership (STAREP). These programmes are supported by the European Union, the Austrian Development Agency, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Finance and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs. The regional programmes support enhanced financial reporting practices in the private and public sectors, in the Western Balkans and EU-Eastern Partnership countries. The ministerial conference took place one day after a workshop for representatives from the Western Balkans and Eastern Europe to discuss reform progress and lessons learned in the area of financial reporting.
More information about the event can be found on the event page.