Policy Makers and Experts Gather for Ministerial Conference
VIENNA, April 27, 2016 – Finance ministers, senior government representatives, and representatives of the business, professional and academic communities from across Europe and Central Asia along with experts from key international organizations gathered in Vienna for the biennial Ministerial Conference organized by the World Bank’s Centre for Financial Reporting Reform (CFRR)*.
The main theme of the Conference was the impact that quality financial reporting has on catalyzing growth in investments and economies. Welcoming around 250 delegates to the Conference through a video message, Hans Jörg Schelling, Austrian Minister of Finance, reiterated Austria’s support of the agenda: “We care about an enabling environment for growth and stability in our neighbouring countries. Strong corporate financial reporting systems contribute to private sector growth, financial markets development and thus to financial stability.”
During a high-level panel discussion, Ministers of Finance from Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Serbia discussed how high-quality financial reporting can act as a catalyst for increased confidence, transparency and trust – which in turn create an environment conducive to sustainable economic growth, job creation and development throughout the region. “In working with our partners and peers we believe that we are making significant progress with our reform agenda. Having said that, Kosovo is committed to engage even further in professional development in the field of accounting and auditing, in order to increase the reliability of financial statements, as a significant factor for attracting investors and investments from abroad,” said Avdullah Hoti, Minister for Finance of the Republic of Kosovo.
Stressing the importance of creating opportunities for growth and investment in Europe, Katarína Mathernová, Deputy Director General, Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations at the European Commission, stated: “Reliable financial statements and reporting systems make it easier for investors to take decisions and allow for better designing of public policy. The European Commission is keen to support the development of up-to-date financial reporting systems in its partner countries in order to help stimulate and promote their competitiveness and growth.”
Cyril Muller, Regional Vice President for Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank, told participants that financial and capital market infrastructure that is aligned with the EU acquis communautaire can allow for easier trading and investment of capital and reduce barriers between countries. “Depth in capital markets provides a sustainable environment for managing and controlling risk. With continued commitment, financial information has the capacity to develop even further as a valued and important tool, contributing to growth throughout the region,” said Muller.
The event provided a unique forum for the different users of financial information to discuss successful examples as well as the work ahead to improve the quality, reliability and availability of financial information. Participants also discussed the role of public accounting reform in promoting governments’ transparency and accountability, managing fiscal risk, and inclusive growth.
The World Bank is pleased that it made the investment, together with key partners, to establish the CFRR aimed at giving particular attention to the quality of financial information and supporting countries to build trust by improving transparency in Public interest Entities,” Samia Msadek, Practice Director, Governance Global Practice at the World Bank, told the Conference In her closing remarks. “While there is still some way to go, the past years' achievements confirm the strong commitment of policy makers to act proactively to achieve financial stability and well operating capital markets.”
In addition to the Conference, two side events were held. The first, a Senior Officials Workshop, convened representatives from Central, Southeast and Eastern Europe to discuss reform progress and lessons learned in the area of financial reporting. They also explored key cross-cutting issues and considered the impact of financial reporting on economic development. On 28 April, the second side event, the Professional Accountancy Organizations Forum will gather over 20 country representatives to discuss how the profession can contribute to economic growth.
*The events have been organized as part of two sub-regional programs:
- The Road to Europe: Program of Accounting Reform and Institutional Strengthening (EU-REPARIS) is carried out in partnership with the European Union and the Western Balkans Enterprise Development and Innovation Facility (WB EDIF).
- Strengthening Auditing and Reporting in Countries of the Eastern Partnership (STAREP) is implemented in partnership with: the Austrian Finance Ministry; the Austrian Development Agency; the European Union; Swiss State Secretariat of Economic Affairs; Luxembourg Finance Ministry.