Restructuring the Accountancy Training Institute

Feroze Mir, Mehraj Dar
Finance is the life-blood of a government. Financial administration includes all the processes involved in collecting, budgeting, appropriating and expending public moneys; auditing income and expenditures and receipts and disbursements; accounting for assets and liabilities and for the financial transactions of the government; and reporting upon income and expenditures, receipts and disbursements and the condition of funds and appropriations. For the smooth and efficient functioning of the financial administration professional and highly skilled manpower is condition sine qua non.
The Accounts cadre of the union territory is entrusted to run the financial administration. Accounts service being a knowledge dominated profession requires a high degree of in-depth knowledge and professional competence. The most valuable asset of Accounts Service is its employees and their training becomes a key input, far more important than in many other organizations. Since accounting and auditing is all pervasive covering practically all areas of governmental activities, Accounts cadre need to have knowledge of a wide variety of subjects, Acts, Rules, Regulations, Procedures, prevailing Government systems and more importantly, they need to be updated on accounting and audit techniques and methodologies that are ever evolving and fast changing with new techniques. In short, well structured training strategies and activities are needed in the Department to attain the objective of maintaining the credibility and professionalism of accounts personnel.
The present system of imparting training to the accounts personnel is through Accountancy Training Institutes viz; Accountancy Training Institute, Srinagar and Northern Zonal Accountancy Training Institute, Jammu. The institutes are imparting training to accounts assistant apprentice recruited through JKSSRB and to the accounts officers probationers recruited through combined civil service examination. The training lasts for roughly two years which includes theoretical and practical training. The training is followed by departmental examinations viz, ACC, SAC-I and SAC-II conducted by JKPSC. The present content and mode of training is outdated and is not sufficient to equip the accounts cadre to sufficiently deal with the complex and new challenges faced in day to day financial administration. The institutes as well as course content needs a structural reformation/restructuring to cope up with the new challenges required to efficiently run the financial administration. Following are some of the reformations suggested:
The accountancy training institutes should be renamed as Institute of Public Finance and Management (IPFM) so as to convey the reformed structure and the course content.
The institute should posses the state-of-the-art learning facilities and the faculty should be akin to any University department. The posts of associate and assistant professors in the field of financial administration and public policy should be created and filled. There should be a continuous provision for visiting faculty from the institutes of repute from the disciplines of Management and Finance, Law, Commerce and Economics. The idea should be to create an academic interface to bring in the novel and innovative academic ideas/practices in public finance management.
Course Content
A major overhauling of course content is needed to attain the objective of maintaining the credibility and professionalism of accounts personnel. The institute should strive to raise its training profile both in terms of magnitude and eminence and to earn its recognition nationally as one of the leading premier training institution in the field of public financial management and public policy. In imparting quality training to all the officials of Civil Accounts Organization as well as ensuring fulfillment of its other training and training related mandates. The training should be imparted in the following broad areas;
* Financial Accounting, Auditing, Government Budgeting and Expenditure control and Government Accounting Procedures.
* Training on PFMS Modules.
* Public Procurement Process, e-Procurement, e-Tendering & GEM.
* Module on information technology & financial administration.
* Cash Flow Forecasting & Cash Management, Debt Management, Financial Reporting: Emerging Trends – Issues & Challenges.
* GFR, DFPR, Manuals for procurement of goods, services and works.
* Vigilance Matters, Disciplinary Proceedings, Prevention of Corruption Act, CVC Act & Guidelines and other related laws.
* Recruitment Rules, Reservation, Rosters, Seniority, DPC & Promotions
* Tax laws, Contract law, Sale of goods Act etc.
* Office Procedures, Noting & Drafting, File & Record Management Establishment & Administration Manuals.
* Team Building, Communication skills, Leadership & Stress Management
* Book keeping and advanced accounting.
* Service rules and other fundamental rules.
* Pension, GPF, SLI, and NPS.
* PWD Manual, PWD code etc.
* Perspective planning, decentralized planning etc.
* Module on Public Private Partnership.
Training Schedule
The restructured institutes should conduct the following training programs by issuing the proper annual calendar of trainings.
* Training programme for Accounts officer (Probationers/Officer trainees).
The training should be designed to:
* Impart focused inputs to prepare the officers for their new role and responsibilities and the corresponding attitudinal changes.
* Impart in-depth knowledge about Financial Accounting, Auditing, Government Budgeting and Expenditure control and Government Accounting Procedures.
* Familiarize participants with computers; develop basic skills in computer applications and use of IT in financial administration.
* Develop interpersonal and leadership skills.
* Training programme for accounts assistant apprentice.
* In- Service/ Mid- Career trainings for accounts personnel
* The institute should conduct in-service training courses at various levels as well as some limited courses for officers of other services. Some of the standard courses are: auditing/ accounting standards, audit methodologies, management development, executive development, fraud and corruption, IT related topics, IT audit, revenue audit courses, risk analysis, statistical sampling, training related courses, etc. The institute should also conduct skill oriented training programmes in computer systems, refresher courses in identified areas for serving officers of a specified level, vertically integrated courses to facilitate experience sharing, orientation training programme for new officers, financial management and audit sensitization.
* Conducting the seminars relating to financial management and public policy.
* Creation of a chair for conducting research in public finance management.
MOU with other similar institutes:
The institute should sign the MOUs with other institutes of repute in public finance management like National Institute of Financial Management (NIFM), National Academy of Audit & Accounts (NAAA), Institute of Government Accounts & Finance (IGNAF) to facilitate exchange of faculty and resource persons for academic and research purposes. Jointly plan calendar of events for holding Seminar, Workshops and short term courses to be conducted at the campus of either of the parties, depending up on the availability of the participants.
Award of Diploma/ Certificates:
The institute should award a diploma in Public Finance & Accounting to all the trainees after the successful completion of training and Departmental examination.
The suggestions are aimed at creating an efficient and professional human resource. Because it is the human resource which is at the core of any successful organization.
(The authors are District Treasury Officer Kulgam and working as Accountant in the office of Director General Accounts & Treasuries, J&K.)