Apr 3, 2018

PACT Training - Well Worth the Time and Effort

We are pleased that Mr. Boban Paunov, advisor for accounting affairs of EU IPA Funds from the IPA Funds Management Department at the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of Macedonia, joined our initiative “Voices from the region” and shared his views on how joining several CEF learning initiatives has benefited him personally and his institution. Mr. Paunov successfully completed the Public Accountants Certification Training (PACT) and was now invited to engage in the next edition of the PACT training in Macedonia as a tutor.

I have attended several CEF events, like the PACT Certification Program in Macedonia, where I successfully completed the certificate and diploma level training on cost accounting, and the Regional Conference on Transition to Accrual Accounting.

The Public Accountants Certification Training (PACT) program is a combination of theory and practical experience, covering topics like managerial accounting, finance and contract management, International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), various approaches in sound financial management, and audit and assurance.     

The PACT program is designed in such a manner that besides theoretical materials it contains a lot of practical exercises and case studies that required full understanding of the theoretical part in order to apply the theoretical knowledge on real case studies, which in certain cases required also our professional judgement of the situation.

One of the main preconditions for successful implementation of the whole PACT program in our country was the engagement of excellent local experts who used flexible training methods and had an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the national legislation, current education schemas and the present status of implementing relevant public finance standards in our country. Moreover, they were eager and patient to share their knowledge with us.

The PACT gave me an opportunity to practice the application of accounting and audit standards to the special circumstances of the public sector through specifically designed case studies, and to gain an internationally recognized, professional certificate and diploma qualification.

The training course helped me renew my knowledge and improve my technical skills required to perform the accounting tasks in my position as an accountant of EU IPA funds. It also gave me skills to further my career.

The second diploma level was more difficult and time consuming. Having in mind our professional engagement at work and the volume of training materials, it took a lot of effort and good time management to synchronize all the activities and successfully complete all the tasks.

I found the Financial Reporting in Public Sector Entities module the most interesting and useful for me as a public sector accountant. The training materials, exercises and tutors’ support helped me understand and advance my knowledge in:

  • applying IPSAS
  • drafting the key external financial statements for single public-sector organizations and groups by applying the consolidation techniques, which are very important and require good knowledge of the accounting events
  • calculating indicators and applying other techniques in analyzing and interpreting the financial statements for public sector organizations

Another advantage of the PACT is that in addition to learning from the training materials and lecturers, it encourages sharing knowledge and expertise between the participants. Our group consisted of public officials with years of experience in practicing finance, budgeting and accounting in a public institution, either on the central or local level. Most of us are still in contact and consult each other on daily work issues.

This year, the CEF invited me and my colleague Marina Joveska-Blazesha to participate at the Regional Conference on Transition to Accrual Accounting, held in Podgorica, where we presented our experience with the PACT program in Macedonia. It was a unique opportunity for me to share knowledge, and a solid ground for exchange of experience and good practices with representatives from Serbia and Montenegro, who have decided to move to accrual accounting and are facing broadly similar challenges. It was most interesting to listen to presentations by eminent professors with years of experience in public sector accounting and individual capacity building.

I was especially inspired by the Slovakian representative, who talked about their lessons learned in transition from cash to accrual accounting and covered various aspects of the reform, including IT and human resource development, change and project management, and collaboration with other reform stakeholders – managers, external auditors and parliamentarians. I believe that could serve as an example of good practice also for Macedonia and other countries in the region in the process of transition to accrual accounting.

I consider my participation in the PACT program highly useful because it helped me improve the quality of the single and consolidate financial statements for my department regarding the implementation of IPA funds in Macedonia in accordance with IPSAS and EC requirements. It is a great program and I am truly happy to have attended it. I recommend it to all public officials dealing with finance, budgeting and accounting.

I also hope that national authorities will support the localization of this training program in the following years, having in mind that all the preconditions have been established: the training materials have been translated into the Macedonian language and the local tutors and we as PACT alumni are eager to help build capacities in this field.

I suggest that the CEF and the donors continue to support the PACT program in the region, because I believe that high-quality financial reporting is crucial to effective financial management in the public sector, emphasizes the importance of establishing international public sector accounting standards, and helps countries raise the status of the accounting profession in line with the EU member states.