Section PS 3410, Government Transfers – Meeting with Tim Beauchamp of the PSAB

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Caveat

The Order does not take a position on the interpretation of PS 3410, the wording of which remains unchanged. However, stakeholders are invited to share their views concerning the application issues during the comment period which runs until May 15, 2015.

 

On April 8, 2015, members of the following working groups of the CPA Order of Québec met with Mr. Tim Beauchamp, CPA, CMA (Ontario), Director Public Sector Accounting with regards to concerns raised in the province of Québec with the implementation of Public Sector Accounting Standard 3410, Government Transfers:

  • Sector-specific working group - municipal governments
  • Sector-specific working group - health and social services network
  • Sector-specific working group - educational institutions
  • Technical working group - assurance
  • Technical working group - public sector – public sector accounting

Mr. Beauchamp provided the members with an update on the Public Sector Accounting Board’s (PSAB) latest discussions about the requirements on: a) authorization; and b) stipulations.  

Authorization

  • PSAB considers that the authorization requirements, as outlined in paragraph 3410.28 a), are clear and given the various types of transfers the need for professional judgement is acknowledged.
  • The need for an appropriation or equivalent authority to issue a cheque is not the key consideration as to whether a liability (or a receivable for the recipient) should be recorded. Preparers should separately assess the authorization of the liability and expense from the related cash flow requirements.
  • Paragraph 3410.28 states that “In some cases, the authority to pay may be part of the authorization process for the purposes of this Section and its absence at the financial statement date may indicate that the exercise of authority (…) is not complete.” Mr. Beauchamp indicated that this requirement is limited in application. The authority to pay should not be used as the sole consideration; the exercise of authority (by way of a contract and the recipients meeting eligibility criteria, for example) typically indicates that the transferring government has lost its discretion.
  • Staff will request that PSAB consider revisiting the phrase “in some cases” to clarify its intent.

Stipulations

  • It was noted that recognition of transfer revenue is different across various provinces (including Quebec); for example,
      • British Columbia and Ontario have enacted legislation indicating that capital transfers should be recognized over the useful life of the related asset.
      • Other provinces have interpreted the stipulation criteria differently, with some recording capital transfers as revenue when the asset is acquired.
  • PSAB is aware of these differences and has undertaken a post-implementation review (see details below) to determine the reasons for them.
  • An obligation to maintain an asset is generally not sufficient by itself to meet the definition of a liability.

PSAB is undertaking a post-implementation review of Government Transfers, Section PS 3410, for which comments are to be submitted by May 15, 2015. Mr. Beauchamp noted that stakeholders should not expect or conclude that the current standard will be modified as a result of the post-implementation review.

The post-implementation review can be found at: /~/media/docs/public-medias/salle-presse/avis-experts-ressources/item80533.pdf

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