In an effort to improve the Holy See budgeting system, the Secretariat for the Economy has already trained Vatican employees in new budgeting policies, and 2015's budgets are to be released by the spring. All this, according to the latest bulletin released by the economy secretariat. After the issuance of the handbook of financial management policies, the Secretariat for the Economy trained more than 160 staff members in November and December, representing 79 entities dealing with finances within the Vatican, in order “to assist and support entities with the new budgeting process and budget template.” “Each session was organised as a meeting of collaborators rather than a classroom, and included a detailed explanation of the reasons for the new policies,” the bulletin stressed. By Jan. 9, 2015 each of these entities should have compiled their 2015 budget and given it to the Secretariat for the Economy. The secretariat will review the budgets and consolidate them “according to international standards.” Given the needed training after the issuance of the new policies, the 2015 budget is scheduled to be published in the spring, but the Secretariat for the Economy anticipates that “in future years the annual budget will be finalised prior to the start of each year.” In order to facilitate the compilation of the budget, “the secretariat — with the assistance of staff seconded from the curia as well as staff from the Secretariat of State and the Prefecture for Economic Affairs — has recently provided entities with pre-completed budget templates to help entities in the transition to the new budgeting process.” The Secretariat will also provide “individual support and guidance for each entity,” and finally it “will soon issue the first set of a series of Practice Notes to all entities.” “The Practice Notes will be developed over time and will be issued after approval by the Council. They will provide a guide for the accounting activities, including donations, recording of personnel and operating costs as well as the approach to recording investments, other assets and liabilities,” reads the bulletin. At the moment, the Secretariat for the Economy is working on the arrangements for the 2014 Financial Statements, including the arrangements for external audits. The Holy See balance sheet were already certified by an external auditor, but new arrangements are needed since the auditions were made on the basis of the previous management policies. The bulletin also reads that “while the 2014 Statements will not be prepared in accordance with the new Policies, it is necessary to carefully map the closing 2014 balances to the opening balances for 2015. It is also necessary to take this opportunity to record any transactions or balances not previously included and to conduct a full inventory so that all amounts are correctly carried forward in to 2015.” According to the motu proprio Fidelis dispensator et prudens, a general auditor will be appointed. In fact, while financial reforms are being carried forward, the new Vatican financial bodies are working to shape the economic structure. The Secretariat for the Economy bulletin says, “we look forward to 2015 as a time when the economic and administrative structures will become operational. Statutes for the Council, Secretariat and the Auditor General are on track to be finalized and submitted to the Holy Father for his approval.” In a briefing with journalists Dec. 10, Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, made public that “there is a restricted group of three cardinals” carrying forward the drafting of the statutes, though he was not able to disclose who these cardinals are. In the mean time, “the Council for the Economy has presented to the Holy Father and the Council of Cardinals its recommendations on the strengthening of APSA’s role, governance and focus as the Central Treasury of the Holy See and Vatican City State.”
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