Conceptual Framework refers to various ideas and objectives that help to set different rules and regulation for accounting. Conceptual Framework has a great significance in the process of accounting all over the world. The role, advantages problems and critics of current conceptual framework is discussed below.
Role: In the process of accounting, the conceptual framework has a significance role to play. One of the major roles of conceptual framework is to assist international Accounting Standard Board (IASB) in making the future International Financial Accounting Standards (IFRS). Not only making the rules it helps IASB to review the existing IFRSs. Conceptual framework plays an important role to make harmony among all the existing accounting rules and regulations by reducing the number of alternative accounting treatments. It helps to set a universal accounting standard. It also provides assistance to the national standard-setting bodies to set the accounting standards in the specific counties (Weil, Schipper and Francis 2013). Another major role of conceptual framework is that it helps to address the new accounting issues that are not recognized yet. Conceptual framework plays an important part in the auditing process also. It assists the auditors all over the world in forming opinions that the financial statements of the audited organizations comply with the accounting rules and regulations of IFRS or not. The users of financial statements like the investors, stakeholders and others use the conceptual framework to interpret various facts of the financial settlements. Last but not the least, conceptual framework provide valuable information to the members of IFRS to develop new accounting rules and regulations. These are the most important roles of conceptual framework (Macve 2015).
Benefits: As mentioned in the above discussion, conceptual framework is nothing but some theoretical principles that assist in the process of financial accounting and financial reporting. There are some major benefits or advantages of the conceptual framework. The major benefit of conceptual framework is that it helps to evaluate or clarify the various concepts in the accounting conceptual framework (Smieliauskas 2016). There are various accounting concepts that are tough to explain with the help of conceptual framework. Another benefit of conceptual framework is that it assists the international as well as national standards setters to set the accounting rules and regulations on a consistent basis. On the other hand, conceptual framework assists the auditors, users of financial statements and preparers of financial standard setters to understand the different approaches, nature and functions of accounting and financial information. These are the main benefits of conceptual framework (Henderson et al. 2015).
Problems and Critics: One of the major problems of conceptual framework is that whether the liabilities and assets of an organization are measured based on cost or value. This is one of the problem areas where the current conceptual framework is criticized. This measurement problem has created a conflict that raises questions towards the measurement framework of assets and liabilities. Another problem is that there are many methods available for the assets and liabilities valuation and this has made the conflict more complex (Craig, Smieliauskas and Amernic 2014).
General-purpose financial statement is an important financial document that assists creditors and investors in the decision making process. Various components of general-purpose financial statement are income statement, balance sheet, statement of owner’s equity, cash flow statement and many others. There should be some major objectives of general-purpose financial statements. The most important objective of general-purpose financial statement is to provide valuable important financial information about the reporting organization to its creditors, investors, lenders and others that assist them to take important decisions. These decisions include buying decision, selling decision, equity decision, investment decision and others. Another important objective of general-purpose financial statement should be to provide important information about the reporting entity regarding the economic resources. This information includes the information about the economic resources, various claims about the organization and others (Nobes 2014). General-purpose financial statement provides other important information that affects the economic resources and claims of the reporting entity. These information has a lot of importance to the investors and others as they can judge the financial strengths and weaknesses of the organization. On the other hand, this information indicates the liquidity and solvency position of the reporting organization. Another objective of general-purpose financial statement should be providing cash flow related information to the investors and creditors. The investors can assess the reporting entity’s ability to generate future cal inflows with the help of information provided by general-purpose financial statement. These should be the major objectives of general-purpose financial statement (ifrs.org 2017).
In the above discussion, it is discussed that one of the most important objective of general-purpose financial statement is to provide valuable and relative information about the reporting company to the investors, creditors, lenders and others. The main agenda behind this supply of information is to make the investors, creditors, lenders and others aware about the financial position of the organization. This process will help them to take effective decisions about sales, purchase, investment and others. As per the Exposure Draft, more emphasis is given on this process so that more prominent and accurate information can be provided to the investors and others. In order to achieve this milestone, it is proposed by the Exposure Draft to reintroduce the term ‘stewardship’ in a more prominent and effective way. The Exposure Draft says that the term ‘stewardship’ needs to be used continuously in order to implement accountability in the accounting process (van Mourik and Katsuo 2014). In this regard, it can be said that the board has taken the right decision to reintroduce ‘stewardship’. This move has many positive impacts. First, this process will help the investors, creditors, lenders and others to take effective prominent decisions like buying and selling decisions, investment decisions, loan decisions and others. On the other hand, it will help to implement accountability in the process of accounting. In addition, this process will resolve the issue of costs from the conceptual framework. All these reasons contribute to the acceptability of the tentative decision of the board (ifrs.org 2017).
Prudence is considered as one of the most important concepts in accounting. In the process of accounting, various uncertainties can be seen over some specific factors like the collection of doubtful debts, the probable useful life of plant and machinery and many others. The concept of prudence says that an accountant needs to record liabilities at the time of their occurrence, but he/she should record the revenues when they are realized. In a more precise note, prudence refers to some degree of cautious that prevents the overstatement of assets and incomes and understatement of liabilities and expenses (ifrs.org 2017).
The above discussion shows the meaning of prudence. However, there is another important concept that is called Asymmetrical Prudent. There are many similarities between prudence and asymmetrical prudence. Asymmetrical prudence occurs when the accountant makes judgment about any asset or liability under the situation of uncertainty. However, there is a lot of differences between asymmetrical prudence and cautious prudence. The main function of asymmetrical prudence is to make the accounting treatment for incomes and liabilities for one period. It has been seen that the asymmetrical prudence leads to the understatement of income for one period and overstatement of incomes for the future periods. The main reason of this is that the prudence is that the accounting rules and regulations allow asymmetrical prudence to take into consideration the incomes that are assured to get after only period (Gl?ckner 2016).
The board has taken a tentative decision to reintroduce the concept of prudence in order to bring more transparency in the accounting processes of the companies. Prudence has a lot of significance in recognizing the losses than the profits. It has been decided in the Exposure draft on 18 May 2016 that in the new conceptual framework, prudence needs to be described as exercise of caution at the time of passing the judgments about uncertainty. It has been decided by the board that there is no need to separate mention the extent of prudence it has already been included in the framework. In addition, the board has also decided that the staffs need understand how to acknowledge prudence in the conceptual framework (Schilder 2013). Based on the above discussion it can be said that the reintroduction of prudence in the conceptual framework is a good idea from the side of the board. This process will give more importance to the concept of prudence and it will bring more transparency in the determining the future loss and gains of the organizations. However, the treatment of prudence in the Exposure Draft is not adequate. There are some major facts about prudence that are not present in the Exposure Draft. Some aspects of prudence and asymmetric prudence are missing in the Exposure Draft. One of the major issues regarding the Exposure Draft is that IASB has acknowledged the concept of prudence in the accounting process but they have not included it in the Exposure Draft. In order to make the draft more accurate, all these missing facts need to be included in it (Marshall and Lennard 2016).
Another major accounting concept is the concept of substance over form. As per this concept, all the financial transactions of an organization needs to be recorded in the financial statement rather than only presenting the legal form and documents of those transactions.
This is done so that the true and fair view of the business entities can be recognized. According to this concept, the accountants of the organizations have a lot of responsibility at the time of accounting. It is their responsibility to derive all the accounting and financial transactions from the various documents of the organizations and record them in the financial statements of the organization.
Another reason of this action is to use these financial documents as per future references. As per the example, IAS 17 Lease can be mentioned in this regard. As per this rule, any particular asset can be leased without transferring the legal documents to the lessee.
However, in this process, the transaction of lease must be recorded in the financial documents of both the parties. The process of substance over form has a great significance in the accounting process as it helps in the true and fair representation of all accounting and financial information. In presence of substance over form, all the assets and liabilities of an organization show the trues value of them (Ahmed, Sabirzyanov and Rosman 2016).
According to the proposed exposure draft, it has been decided to reintroduce the concept of substance over form. It has been said in the Exposure Draft that substance over form helps to document all the information about the financial activities rather than only presenting the legal documents of those transactions. In a more precise note, it can be said that the substance over form refers to the faithful representation of all accounting and financial information. On 18 May 2016, the board has decided that the proposed Exposure Draft will include all the substances of substance over form to make the financial statement transparent (Disle et al. 2016). As per the decision of the board, the proposed Exposure Draft will describe the uncertainties in measurement to implement faithful representation. On the other hand, the Exposure draft will also include the Basis of Conclusion I the revised conceptual framework. The board has also taken decision not tom include some factors in the conceptual framework like the brief explanation of existence, measurement and outcome uncertainties and others. After the above discussion, it can be said that the board has taken a correct step regarding substance over form as this process will be resulted in the fair and true representation of all the necessary accounting and financial information. The legal documents have a lot of importance, but the true and fair presentation of accounting and financial information is necessary for the success of the organizations (Walton 2015).
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