IPSAS v/s IFRS - Know the Major Differences

IPSAS v/s IFRS - Know the Major Differences


There are similarities between the accounting requirements of the government and private sectors, but there are major differences that differentiate the IPSAS standards from the IFRS standards. These differences impact various aspects of financial reporting, including the measurement, recognition, and disclosure of transactions and events. It is important for organizations to understand these nuances to ensure they are adhering to the appropriate accounting principles. The uniqueness of the public sector is specifically addressed in IPSAS Standards, whereas IFRS Standards are designed for use in the private sector. Therefore, it is essential for businesses and government agencies to understand the distinction between these two sets of standards to ensure accurate financial reporting.

With the increasing popularity and shift towards IPSAS in public sector accounting, accountants all over the globe are faced with the task of learning and adopting a completely new set of financial reporting standards. This is because these accountants were trained in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP), which are extensively based upon International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS).

In 2011, the External Reporting Board (XRB) deliberated on abandoning sector-neutral standards and adopting standards that are specific to private and public benefit entities (PBEs). The XRB indicated that it would rely heavily on International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS), but also maintained that it would not adopt IPSAS completely.

However, it should be noted that IPSAS is heavily influenced by IFRS standards. This is because the International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board (IPSASB), which develops international accounting standards primarily for government entities, is closely connected with the accounting standards set by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), which develops and issues IFRS standards.

Despite their similarities, there are a number of key conceptual differences between IFRS and IPSAS. These differences can be highlighted and better understood by attending IFRS and IPSAS training.

However, to make the task easier, in this article we will explore some of the commonly known differences that distinguish IPSAS from IFRS.

Users of IPSAS and IFRS

IFRS is internationally recognized and is adopted by profit-oriented companies to maintain consistency in financial statements. This helps these companies establish themselves among globally listed companies on public stock exchanges.

In contrast, IPSAS is designed for public sector entities whose main objective is to provide goods and services. These entities are financed by taxation rather than profits.

What is IPSAS?

IPSAS, or International Public Sector Accounting Standards, are a set of regulations established by the IPSAS Board that are exclusively applicable to public sector entities worldwide. Although there are slight differences between IPSAS and International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) issued by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB), IPSAS is largely based on IFRS.

The primary objective of IPSAS is to improve the quality of financial reporting by public sector entities. These standards promote transparency and accountability by providing better information for appropriate assessments of resource allocation decisions made by governments.

The IPSAS accounting standards are applicable to national, regional, and local governments, as well as other related governmental entities.

What is IFRS?

IFRS, or International Financial Reporting Standards, are accounting standards issued by the IFRS Foundation and the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB). These standards aim to provide a standardized report on a company's financial performance and statements. They are primarily applied to companies whose shares or securities are listed on a public stock exchange. IFRS is currently adopted by 167 jurisdictions and permitted in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan, South Korea, Brazil, the European Union, India, Hong Kong, Australia, Malaysia, Pakistan, GCC countries, Russia, Chile, the Philippines, Kenya, South Africa, Singapore, Israel, and Turkey.

Major Differences Between IPSAS Standards and IFRS Standards 

1. Conceptual Differences

IFRS primarily focuses on providing investors, lenders, and other users with information about the overall financial performance and position of the entity, to help them make profitable investment and credit decisions. On the other hand, IPSAS primarily provides information regarding the resources utilized by the entity and the cost of service delivery. Therefore, IFRS is generally preferred by entities with commercial or profit motivation, whereas IPSAS is considered more appropriate for non-profit or public service entities. 

2. Service Potential 

Under IFRS accounting standards, an asset is defined as a resource that is controlled by an entity as a result of past events, and from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the entity. In contrast, IPSAS includes the concept of 'service potential' in its definition of an asset, which means that an item can be classified as an asset even if it is not expected to generate future cash flows for the entity. This difference highlights how IPSAS focuses on the ability of an asset to contribute to the delivery of services, rather than just its ability to generate future economic benefits and profits.

3. Budget Information

The IPSAS 24 Presentation of Budget Information in Financial Statements requires public sector entities to make their annual budgets publicly available. This is necessary to allow for a comparison of budgeted and actual information as part of their financial statements.

This disclosure is not mandated or required under IFRS accounting standards.

4. Non-Cash Generating Assets

As established earlier, IPSAS standards recognize service potential as an alternative for identifying and recognizing an asset for future economic benefits. In order to determine whether the recognized assets are impaired, IPSAS 21 Impairment of Non-Cash Generating Assets is put into practice. This helps to guide the valuation methods used to determine the value of non-cash generating assets.

No such guidance is required or established under IFRS accounting standards.

5. No-Exchange Transactions 

IPSAS has established no-exchange transactions that encompass public-sector-specific standards. IPSAS 23 covers revenues arising from taxes, grants, fines, and levies. 

IFRS has no such standards as it believes that such transactions are not required for private sector entities. 

There are certainly many other minor differences between these two reporting frameworks. However, we have highlighted the ones that are most commonly known and discussed. Understanding the differences between IPSAS and IFRS accounting standards, as mentioned above, can help professionals in acknowledging and successfully assimilating their functions at their workplace.

Message from the Author

If you’re looking to enrol for the IFRS training or IPSAS training in Dubai, get in touch with Learners Point Academy. To learn more, visit the website: https://learnerspoint.org/, give a call at +971 (04) 403 8000, or simply drop a message on WhatsApp.

Learners Point Academy is a KHDA and ISO 9001:2015 accredited training institute in Dubai.

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