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The Regional Accountant

The Brussels Regional Public Service (GOB) keeps the General Accounts. The Budget Accounts are kept in accordance with and integrated into the General Accounts. The General Accounting contains analytical components. The Regional Accountant records all accounting transactions of the Brussels public services; it provides the Parliament and the public with an overview of all assets and rights, debts, obligations and commitments of all kinds, and must allow a permanent follow-up of the execution of the budget and thus of the outlined policy.

General versus budget accounting

Legislation requires public bodies to keep accounting records in accordance with applicable financial regulations and standards. To this end, the SPRB and the Brussels public services (AAO: autonomous administrative bodies) keep general accounts that are related and integrated with the budget accounts. It is an instrument for planning, monitoring and controlling regional public finances.

General accounting: transparency and accountability

The general accounts are economic in nature: they include all financial transactions, assets, rights, debts and liabilities of the Brussels Capital Region.  

The Region draws up a general GOB account for each Brussels public service (ABI) and for the consolidated regional whole. It includes the annual accounts (balance sheet, income statement, summary account of budgetary operations and annex) and the budget account. The general accounts are kept on the basis of a standardised general chart of accounts. In it, all accruals are recorded, whether or not they have a budgetary impact.  

The general chart of accounts includes all established entitlements - whether or not they are included in the budget. Established entitlements are legally recognised financial rights to receive revenue, incur expenditure or use resources in accordance with an approved budget.  

These accounts ensure transparency: anyone can closely follow the financial activities of the public service and demand accountability.  The general accounts are kept under the usual rules of double-entry bookkeeping, following the principles of the 2003 accounting reform. As with budget accounting, the financial year runs from January 1 to December 31. Thus, every year we get the updated balance sheet information

Budget accounting: financial planning and control

Budget accounting primarily serves a democratic purpose: to plan and control expenditure and revenue within the budget approved by Parliament. This allows the government and Parliament to closely monitor budget execution and ensure that available financial resources are used efficiently and in line with budget authorisations. Spending can be easily monitored and deviations or overruns identified in a timely manner.

Budget accounting is based on the one-year principle and is cash accounting: only cash receipts and cash expenditure as approved and authorised within the budget (established entitlements) are recorded. This accounting has a narrower scope than general accounting: it does not include a balance sheet, receivables, payables or financial transactions.

Accounting rules

A number of accounting rules apply in the Brussels Capital Region. We go over the most important ones below.

The annual inventory

Every year, the Region draws up an inventory of its assets (fixed assets, stocks, receivables and cash) and liabilities (debts). In this way, their value in the accounts corresponds to their actual value at the given date. The inventory method is described in a circular on assets, liabilities, rights and obligations not included in the balance sheet.

Valuation rules

What financial value is assigned to assets, liabilities, income and expenses? Correct valuation is very important to ensure accurate accounting. The way the regional valuation is done was determined by:

  • The Royal Decree of 10 November 2009 and its annexes defining the chart of accounts applicable to the federal State
  • The Communities the Regions and the Joint Community Commissionthe circular of 14 December 2020 from the Minister of Finance and Budget with a view to applying the accounting rules provided for in the Organic Ordinance of 23 February 2006 on the provisions applicable to the budget, accounting and auditing. 
  • The economic classification with details of the budget structure

Accounting audit

Accounting control ensures the accuracy and reliability of accounting records. Assets are protected in accordance with government regulations. Internal accounting control is carried out by the Regional Accountant and the general account is certified by the Court of Auditors.

General account: annual and executive accounts

Every year, the GOB accounting department and the Regional Accountant prepare the general accounts of the consolidated Regional entity as stipulated by law (OOBBC ordinance: Article 59 and the law of 16 May 2003).  

The Regional Accountant manages the regional accounts in accordance with legal requirements and submits the general accounts of government departments (prepared by the Direction de l'Accountancy et ) to the Court of Auditors. In addition, the Regional Accountant prepares the consolidated accounts of the Regional entity. These include the accounts of government departments and the accounts of the 24 autonomous administrative bodies (ABIs).

This general account records all assets and financial transactions, expenditure and income for the financial year. Thus, this document gives you a detailed account of receivables and payables, income and expenditure, as well as expenditures on government programmes, infrastructure projects and services to citizens.

The general account is an important part of the accounting system: it allows us to manage finances and evaluate the region's financial position: track cash flows, record costs and revenues, and evaluate financial results and asset position.

IPSAS: harmonisation of accounting systems

For accounting, the Brussels-Capital Region applies the IPSAS standards, international standards that aim to harmonize accounting systems for government entities worldwide and improve financial reporting. This makes it possible to compare the financial statements of the different government services and their evolution over time and between the different bodies. Applying the IPSAS standards also offers the opportunity to align more with common practices in the private sector.