New IASC for New Year

The International Accounting Standards Committee has unveiled a #15m blueprint for a new structure to accelerate the harmonisation of international standards.

Leading standard setters warned that unless the IASC overhauled its procedures it would miss a golden opportunity to achieve global harmonisation.

The proposals were published on Monday, in advance of the IASC meeting in Frankfurt next week. It is likely to approve the ‘interim’ financial instruments standard to complete its core package.

If stock market regulators agree, IASs will give companies a ‘universal passport’ for cross-border listings.

IASC president Sir Bryan Carsberg said he would be disappointed if the standard was not approved.

The nine-year core standards project has stretched the IASC to the limit.

‘We can’t carry on doing what we have always done,’ added Sir Bryan. ‘If we don’t meet the challenge, somebody else will.’

To speed up the committee’s work, the strategy paper proposes a standards development committee of around a dozen national standard setters to draft standards for approval by an expanded IASC board.

Led by a full-time chairman, the development committee will allow national standard setters to set the IASC’s agenda and synchronise their work programmes, said Sir Bryan. Observers named Accounting Standards Board chairman and IASC strategy group member Sir David Tweedie as a possible candidate for the post. He was unavailable for comment.

Last year, the strategy working party considered giving the development committee final approval over standards. This provoked widespread criticism, for example from the head of the European Commission’s accounting standards unit, who said the commission would not support standards developed by ‘a small group of technocrats’.

International Federation of Accountants president Frank Harding said the new structure created a ‘balance of authority’ between national standards setters and representatives of the profession. He also supported the new committee: ‘Having professional standard setters working together towards harmonisation, might mean we eventually get there.’

The IASC will need to find #5m to implement the strategy, while national standards bodies on the development committee would each need to commit #1m to #1.5m.

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