Friday, September 30, 2011

Auditors Spared of Matching XML A/Cs With Original Papers

Auditors and company secretaries will not be required to certify that filing of accounts under a new electronic format match the original balance sheet, relieving finance professionals from a burdensome compliance in the first year of this new reporting mode. All listed companies and certain unlisted ones are required to file their financial statements for the year ended 31 March 2011 using the Extensible Business Reporting Language (XBRL) format. Moreover, finance professionals, including chartered accountants, have to certify that the audited balance sheet of a company and the XBRL-converted documents match. But for this year only authentication by a practicing CA/CS/CWA will be required and MCA will issue a circular by this week, Avinash K Shrivastava, joint secretary, ministry of corporate affairs, told ET. Thus, these experts just need to authenticate that the data is accounted for and they don't have to validate the converted XBRL document. A government official, however, said there was no significant difference between authentication and certification as both need digital signatures of registered accountants but as the term authentication was more acceptable to companies the ministry decided to go forward with it. XBRL is a global standard for exchanging business information. Under this format, companies report their financial statements using XBRL syntax as an .xml file instead of uploading their balance sheets in .doc or .pdf format. However, Indian companies have some apprehensions about this new mode as they fear that there would be differences in the standard reported balance sheet and the one accepted by the XBRL format. The certification process would have been cumbersome and confusing as several terms would have to be reclassified by the accountants. This would have increased our costs significantly as well as led to a lot of loss in data, an official of a service-based firm told ET. According to experts, this is primarily because in XBRL-enabled filing of financial statements, financial terms may be differently defined than in a standard balance sheet, resulting in a lot of aggregation and desegregation of figures.In the US, XBRL was introduced five years ago, but the process of certification started only this year. India, too, should adopt a gradual process of business reform, a reputed accountant told ET. Ministry officials rubbished the argument. There is no question of any sort of data being lost as at the end of the day it's just reclassification. The net profit after and before tax would still be the same. Such issues are just being highlighted by some with vested interests, the official added. The ministry is doing everything to pacify all stakeholders while ensuring that XBRL as a forward-looking reporting standard gets adopted as smoothly as possible, Shrivastava said. Most accountants ET spoke to said that for this year the ministry didn't allow companies to define their own accounting elements and definitions in their statements under XBRL, something they call 'extensions'. Senior MCA officials dispute this. The issue of extensions is being considered throughout the world as allowing companies to classify their own elements beats the very purpose of a standard reporting format and such a practice can lead to bypassing various important overheads in a balance sheet, one official said on condition of anonymity. Banks, insurers and NBFCs have been exempted from XBRL filing for 2010-11.

No comments:

Post a Comment