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Johnson: Accrual-based accounting switch a ‘mammoth undertaking’

The government’s move to accrual-based accounting is ramping up this fiscal year, Acting Financial Secretary Marlon Johnson told Guardian Business yesterday, adding that consultants that have helped countries make the transition from cash to accrual-based accounting systems will be on the ground shortly to help begin the five-year process.

Johnson, who was speaking at the Ministry of Finance’s budget press conference, held at the British Colonial Hilton hotel, said the move is a “mammoth” undertaking and the retraining of staff and consolidation of a register of government’s assets will take some time.

“Optimistically in the upcoming budget we should see at least some of the summary information in an accrual form,” he said.

“Where we are right now is we’re getting ready to engage the Bahamian coordinator for our accrual transition because it’s a mammoth undertaking right now, because it’s the retraining of our accounting staff, it’s getting a feel for our full asset register, because of course in an accrual system you need to know what your assets are.

“So, we’re taking it in baby steps because it’s a five-year process, but once that team is in place they’re working with an outside consultancy that has done this around the world. So our hope is by the time we get to the new budget (2020/2021) we should start to see some indication, if at least only in a pro forma way, of our move to accrual accounting.”

Last year Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Peter Turnquest said accrual-based accounting could have prevented many of the shortcomings of the Free National Movement’s first budget in 2017.

Turnquest said then that the cash-based accounting system currently in use helped to mask a plethora of payment arrears that distorted the government’s statistics on spending. He accused the former government of using this mask to “present a false picture of the fiscal position”.

Chester Robards

Senior Business Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Chester Robards rejoined The Nassau Guardian in November 2017 as a senior business reporter. He has covered myriad topics and events for The Nassau Guardian.
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism
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