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UOW Deputy Vice-Chancellor honoured
Research to be presented at Italian Parliament House.
University of Wollongong Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Global Strategy) Professor Alex Frino has been invited to attend a meeting at the Italian Parliament on Thursday (12 October) where his research into public sector accounting practices in Italy will be presented by his research team.
An internationally-recognised economist and researcher, Professor Frino said the invitation from the Chief Executive of the Italian accountancy accreditation organisation, Consiglio Nazionale Dei Dottori Commercialisti e Degli Esperti Contabili (CNDCEC) had special significance for him, as his parents had both been born in Italy.
The meeting will be hosted by L’onorevole Francesco Boccia, Presidente della Commisione Bilancio (the Honourable Francesco Boccia, Chair of the Finance and Budget Committee) at the Palazzo Montecitorio or Parliament House in Italy which will be attended by members of parliament representing all the major parties including Deputy Treasurer Enrico Morando (Viceministro dell’Economica e delle Finance).
“I have always been extremely proud of my Italian heritage, and hold dual citizenship,” Professor Frino said. “My parents migrated to Australia in the hope of a better life, and to give their children opportunities that might not have been possible in Italy.
“My parent’s story is like that of so many migrants who settled in Wollongong in the 1960s. My father toiled in the Port Kembla Steelworks to give his children the kind of education he couldn’t have.
“So I feel that I am honouring him and my mother by engaging with researchers in Italy, and carrying out this research which will be presented to members of parliament from their homeland, and to be able to give something back to the country where they were born by conducting research that is having an impact in the ‘real world’.”
Professor Frino and Professor Francesco Capalbo, of the University of Molise in Italy, have co-authored a number of research papers that examined reporting practices of Italian public sector organisations. The research has been funded by a 100,000 Euro grant from the Italian accounting accreditation organisation (CNDCEC).
Since the Greek economic collapse in the first half of this decade, European governments have been under pressure to “harmonise” their accounting practices to allow comparisons of the financial accounts of member states. That involves all levels of government including local governments (municipalities) in each country, because their financial statements are consolidated into the national accounts.
Professors Frino and Capalbo’s research into Italian public sector accounting practices is considered important in the European Union’s efforts to establish harmonisation of public sector accounting standards across Europe. This is because in Italy, local government does not use typical (accrual) accounting practice to generate financial statements, but a cash basis of accounting. Hence, there is a large cost to the switch and the purpose of Frino-Capalbos research was to determine whether there was value in making the switch.
“In the research to be presented on 12 October, we conducted a survey of 1,300 public sector auditors including Commercialisti (certified accountants) in Italy and asked them whether a move to full accrual accounting, as promulgated by the EU would improve the quality of financial statements – the results came back with a resounding YES,” Professor Frino said.
Their research will be presented to members of the Italian Camera dei Deputati (Congressmen) at a meeting organised by the CNDCEC and the Italian Parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee, and will be attended by the head of the European Union’s taskforce into standardising accounting practices, Alexandre Makaronidis.
Professor Frino says that the call for changes to accounting practices by local governments will come with its challenges. Apart from the obvious increase in costs associated with the switch, Professor Frino said that his previous research showed that accrual accounting, which is mandatory in Italian state-owned enterprises, was used to manipulate accounting numbers – especially around elections – though in their research they had not examined local government accounting.
Pictured: Professor Alex Frino with his family at the 2015 Alumni Awards.