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Accountants must work to help close the global infrastructure gap

The term ‘global infrastructure gap’ identifies the difference between infrastructure investment needed and the resources available to meet that need. In 2018 alone, the investment gap grew by over $400bn and it is set to grow to a staggering $14 trillion by 2040.

ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) has partnered with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) on a report called: How accountants can bridge the global infrastructure gap. The project has produced findings and recommendations based on international good practice to help governments close their infrastructure gap with accountants playing a central, collaborative role.

Respondents from the survey identified three major barriers to meeting the infrastructure needs of their respective countries:

  • 52% cited a lack of political leadership;
  • 49% quoted a lack of finance funding;
  • 40% said it was down to planning and regulatory barriers.

ACCA’s head of public sector policy, Alex Metcalfe, said:”Infrastructure is the foundation on which our social and economic well-being is built. All around the world – national, regional and local governments make decisions that serve the public and play a critical role in building and maintaining important infrastructure investments. Forces such as demographics, rising cyber threats, urbanisation and climate change are all increasing the global demand for quality infrastructure.

“Through this report, ACCA and CPA Canada also hope to highlight just how powerful and essential connections and partnerships are. The relationship between the public and private sector in facilitating the delivery of infrastructure projects is vital and accountants play an important role in getting this relationship right.’

The report offers 20 recommendations to close the infrastructure gap, based on observed global good practice. The recommendations include:

  • Governments should enforce effective whistle-blowing legislation and professionalise the public sector finance function to allow public servants to challenge unethical behaviour and practices that can disrupt infrastructure projects.
  • Governments should direct supreme audit institutions to monitor the interaction of off balance sheet liabilities and fiscal targets in order to improve the efficient allocation;
  • Governments should adopt full accrual accounting and maintain a public sector balance sheet to support decision-making on infrastructure policies.
  • Governments should also separate expenditure on projects to report both maintenance and new project spend.

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