Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Regulators should conform to new global accounting standards

International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) is gathering storm and most countries barring the US and a few others have either adopted IFRS or their national generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) are converging to IFRS.

Australia, New Zealand, China, Singapore, Japan, Middle East, Africa & European Union have either adopted or are converging to IFRS. The eminent status to IFRS came about after EU made it mandatory for all its listed companies starting 2005. Consequently, more than 8,000 EU-listed companies adopted IFRS in one go. US capital markets are losing their attractiveness as a result of what many view as excessive regulation. As a consequence, many believe that the predominance of US GAAP as a standard may be coming to an end. This could make large companies look at other capital markets, and in many of those capital markets IFRS are accepted.

More than 1,100 Chinese companies have recently switched over to new accounting standards bringing their books in line with international norms. India follows Indian GAAP, which is inspired by International Accounting Standards (IAS).

However, Indian GAAP has not kept pace with the changes that followed IAS’ metamorphosis to IFRS. The most important change in IFRS is the application of fair valuation principles. Key standards based on fair valuation principles that have not yet been rolled out under Indian GAAP relate to business combinations, financial instruments and investment properties. There are also several areas where there are critical differences between Indian GAAP and IFRS.

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