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Center of Excellence in Finance


Capacity Building in Public Accounting Project

I. Introduction

In 2003 the Center of Excellence in Finance (CEF) started with the pilot implementation of the Capacity Building in Public Accounting project (CBIPA) in Albania, Croatia and Slovenia.

CBIPA is a medium term (5-year) project with the core objective to:

  1. establish a training and certification program for public sector accountants in line with the best international practices and standards,
  2. kick-start its implementation through two training cycles, and
  3. institutionalize training and certification within each participating country.

The program emphases the importance of establishing and maintaining international standards in public sector accounting, on raising the status of the profession in line with EU countries, and on enhancing countries’ ability to implement a modernized management accounting approach.

The training program was designed with the assistance of an international consultant, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA), selected by means of an international tender that provided an internationally recognized, post-graduate, professional two-year training program, focusing on the practical application of accounting and audit standards to the special circumstances of the public sector. 

Project is financially supported by the World Bank, UK Global Opportunity Fund and the Development Cooperation Ireland.

When first initiated it was envisaged that on the basis of positive experiences with pilot implementation the project would be rolled out to other interested countries, CEF members. Having identified serious deficiencies in competences of public sector accountants the World Bank in one of its reports on project progress listed Macedonia as a priority candidate for the training. The other candidates who expressed the interest and were included in the project are Moldova and Kosovo.

The World Bank is supporting the CBIPA project in Macedonia, Moldova and Kosovo with an Institutional Development Fund Grant of 160.000 US$ for each country.

II. CIPFA/CEF diploma in public accounting

CIPFA/CEF diploma in public sector accounting is a two year training and certification program for public sector accountants. The training program designed by CIPFA, is comprised of six international modules that cover international standards and best practice in public sector accounting, financial reporting, management and audit and two national modules that cover national public finance and accounting legislation and tax system and are different in each participating country (see Annex for detailed program). The national modules will be prepared by local authors with the assistance of CIPFA experts.

The entry requirements include university degree in accounting and audit, finance, economy or its equivalent as well as relevant experience (more than 1 year) in one of the following fields:

  • Budget preparation and execution;
  • Accounting and book-keeping;
  • Preparation of financial management information;
  • Financial control.

Additional mandatory requirements:

  • The candidate should be a public sector employee; involved in the activities related to the fields mentioned in the above requirements;
  • English proficiency – medium – advanced level (sufficient to be involved in a training program);
  • The candidates' wish and commitment to work in the public sector for at least two years after completing the program.

Realizing that flexibility of study is important when studying for a qualification and recognizing  that an employer cannot afford to release staff from their everyday duties for long periods the program has been designed as a distance learning.

The CEF has in cooperation with CIPFA chosen to use a high quality open learning system so that students can study when and where they want, without needing to be away from work for long periods. The material is contained on CDs and additional distance learning tools are available (internet discussion forum, online assessment tests). 

Highly qualified local tutors provide assistance to students during the study in local language via email, internet forum, provided by the CEF and on regular in-class consultations.

The full qualification program stretches over two years with approximately 2,5 months being allocated for the study of each module.

At the end of the module formal examinations are set at the end of each module. The emphasis is on developing competences and skills and helping students to pass the assessments first time.

Training is divided in two stages. After the first stage students receive CIPFA certificate and after completing two year program they receive full CIPFA diploma and associate membership status with CIPFA.

If successful students obtain at the end of the program CIPFA diploma and/or certificate— those who choose to exit after the first year as well as national license for certified public sector accountant.

III. Partners in the Project

The project is a partnership of the Ministry of Finance, CEF and the CIPFA.

Center of Excellence in Finance – CEF is a regional non-profit foundation established within the framework of the Stability Pact for South East Europe (SEE) by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia on the initiative of the Slovene Ministry of Finance and in cooperation with ministries of finance of other SEE countries. Members of CEF are Ministries of finance and Central banks of Albania, BiH, Bulgaria, Croatia, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Slovenia. The CEF’s main objective is to provide assistance to member countries in public finance reform process.

The core activity of CEF is organization of focused professional training mainly in the form of specialized workshops. In addition since 2003 the CEF is running a certification scheme for internal auditors in Slovenia and public sector accountants in Albania, Croatia and Slovenia. . 

The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy - CIPFA is one of the six professional accountancy bodies in the United Kingdom and the leading professional accountancy body for the public services. Its principal objective is to promote ‘best practice’ in public finance, accountancy and audit. CIPFA provides education, training and assessment for a range of qualifications.  It is experienced in delivering these qualifications on an open learning basis.  It sets and monitors professional standards through its membership of the UK Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies (CCAB). CIPFA is also a founder member of the International Federation of Accountants (IFAC), the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) and the Fédération des Experts Comptables Européens (FEE).


Annex 1 Program

Stage 1 (certification)

IM1 Financial Reporting

  • The nature and environment of financial accounting.
  • Double entry book-keeping.
  • Preparation of final accounting statements.
  • Using and interpreting financial statements.

IM2 Accounting for Decision-Making

  • Cost classification and behaviour costing methods.
  • Planning and controlling costs.
  • Quantitative analysis.
  • Budgetary control.

 IM3 Management

  • Organisation theory and structure.
  • Human Resource Management.
  • Introduction to strategic management.

 NM Law

  • Legal system in the participating country
  • Budget preparation and execution;.
  • Internal and external audit
  • Accounting legislation
  • Public Servants Act
  • Public Procurement Regulations
  • Contract Law


Stage 2 (diploma)


IM4 Audit

  • Audit processes and principles.
  • Assurance activities.
  • Governance and stewardship.
  • Internal and external audit.
  • Computer/IT Audit issues and techniques.

IM5 Financial Management

  • Performance management.
  • Cash and asset management.
  • Project management.
  • Treasury management.
  • Business planning

IM6 Information Systems Management

  • Information systems and control.
  • Financial information management.
  • I.T. Project development and information development management.

NM  Taxation

  • Local taxes and tax administration.
  • Personal income tax,
  • Corporate profit tax,
  • VAT,
  • Other taxes.