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CityPress - - Careers - RICH MKHONDO projects@city­press.co.za What is your po­si­tion at the Of­fice of the Ac­coun­tan­tGen­eral? What are your qual­i­fi­ca­tions? What are your spe­cific re­spon­si­bil­i­ties? Why is there a short­age of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment grad­u­ates join­ing the public sect

shna Prithi­raj is on a mis­sion to en­cour­age ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions to el­e­vate public sec­tor fi­nan­cial man­age­ment, and pro­fes­sion­alise work-based train­ing and learn­ing to in­crease the num­ber of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment grad­u­ates join­ing the public sec­tor.

I am the di­rec­tor of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment ca­pac­ity build­ing.

I am a char­tered ac­coun­tant (CA) and a master of busi­ness ad­min­is­tra­tion grad­u­ate.

I am in­volved in a pro­ject to pro­fes­sion­alise public fi­nan­cial man­age­ment and cre­ate public sec­tor fi­nance pro­fes­sion­als. My job is to nicely nudge and ca­jole ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions to el­e­vate public sec­tor fi­nan­cial man­age­ment in their cur­ricu­lums.

Univer­si­ties and many ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions teach mostly fi­nan­cial man­age­ment in the pri­vate sec­tor, and the public sec­tor is hardly men­tioned in fi­nan­cial train­ing. They talk less of the public ser­vice and more of the pri­vate sec­tor.

With more than 200 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, 34 gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and nine pro­vin­cial de­part­ments, ex­clud­ing state-owned en­ti­ties, the public sec­tor is the big­gest em­ployer of fi­nance pro­fes­sion­als. The need is great, but the skills are lack­ing. There is a short­age of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment grad­u­ates join­ing the public sec­tor.

Be­cause ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions are not putting the public ser­vice into the minds of ac­count­ing grad­u­ates. Even the cur­ricu­lum is bi­ased to­wards the pri­vate sec­tor. One of the big­gest chal­lenges for all qual­i­fied CAs is that they are not ex­posed to leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tion per­tain­ing to the public sec­tor, like the Public Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act and the Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act.

For ex­am­ple, at univer­sity, we were pre­vi­ously taught Gen­er­ally Ac­cepted Ac­count­ing Prin­ci­ples and now em­pha­sis is di­rected at In­ter­na­tional Fi­nan­cial Re­port­ing Stan­dards.

I only be­came aware of Gen­er­ally Reg­u­lated Ac­count­ing Prac­tice, the Public Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act and the Mu­nic­i­pal Fi­nance Man­age­ment Act when I joined the public sec­tor.

I am de­sign­ing pro­fes­sion­al­i­sa­tion pro­grammes with na­tional qual­i­fi­ca­tions or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the SA Qual­i­fi­ca­tions Au­thor­ity and pro­fes­sional bod­ies such as the SA In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants, the As­so­ci­a­tion of Ac­count­ing Tech­ni­cians, the In­sti­tute of In­ter­nal Au­di­tors, the Char­tered In­sti­tute of Man­age­ment Ac­coun­tants and The In­sti­tute for Risk Man­age­ment SA.

This means fi­nan­cial man­agers who en­hance their skills in the work­place could in fu­ture re­ceive an ac­cred­ited qual­i­fi­ca­tion with a pro­fes­sional des­ig­na­tion.

For public fi­nance man­age­ment pro­fes­sion­al­i­sa­tion, con­sid­er­a­tion is given to the dif­fer­ent ma­tu­rity sta­tus and re­quire­ments of nine fi­nan­cial dis­ci­plines ex­is­tent within the public fi­nan­cial man­age­ment sec­tor.

The nine public fi­nance man­age­ment dis­ci­plines are: man­age­ment ac­count­ing, rev­enue man­age­ment, ex­pen­di­ture man­age­ment, as­set man­age­ment (move­able and im­mov­able), fi­nan­cial ac­count­ing, sup­ply chain man­age­ment, in­ter­nal con­trol, en­ter­prise risk man­age­ment and in­ter­nal au­dit.

I am work­ing with all ter­tiary in­sti­tu­tions to con­tin­u­ously pro­mote the public sec­tor as a good place to work, while si­mul­ta­ne­ously try­ing to shift the cul­ture of the public sec­tor to­wards ex­cel­lence and per­for­mance.

The Trea­sury and the Of­fice of the Ac­coun­tant-Gen­eral can make sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the ef­fec­tive per­for­mance of em­ploy­ees by pay­ing spe­cific at­ten­tion to how work­place-based train­ing is in­cluded in the cur­ricu­lum of qual­i­fi­ca­tions.

The most im­por­tant of these are the na­ture and or­gan­i­sa­tion of the work in the public in­sti­tu­tions, how the work is struc­tured and al­lo­cated to trainees, the sup­port and con­struc­tive feed­back trainees re­ceive from co-work­ers and men­tors, the per­cep­tion of a job as mean­ing­ful and the com­plex­ity of the job.

Also, to re­main rel­e­vant, fi­nan­cial man­agers must keep abreast with the changes and en­cour­age the de­vel­op­ment of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment stan­dards that fit both the needs of public fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion users and the re­al­i­ties of our econ­omy.

I am pas­sion­ate about what I do. I am for­tu­nate to have the sup­port of the Trea­sury and the Of­fice of the Ac­coun­tant-Gen­eral.

DRIVEN

Ashna Prithi­raj is di­rec­tor of fi­nan­cial man­age­ment ca­pac­ity build­ing at the Of­fice of the Ac­coun­tant-Gen­eral

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