Net backs IAS drive.

Increased internet usage and the development of a web-based business language are to become the driving forces behind international accounting standards, according Mary Keegan, head of global corporate reporting and international accounting standards at PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Keegan, who has been championing the fight for global standards over the last 10 years, highlighted the importance of the new computer language XBRL which enables businesses to exchange financial information across technologies like the internet.

‘We have been obsessed with putting information onto the web. Now, we’re looking at taking it off the web using XBRL. It is so much more important that data is compiled in the same way,’ she said.

Keegan’s comments come as the drive for global accounting standards was stepped up last week at a European conference hosted by the International Accounting Standards Committee.

‘Just as the European Commission made a bold, good move, so we are seeing other governments, as in the Asia Pacific area, taking notice,’ Keegan, vice president of the Federation of European Accountants, said in response the EC’s endorsement of a core set of international accounting standards earlier this year.

Keegan said that, provided standard-setters remained accountable, international co-operation was possible.

Despite her optimism, Keegan urged companies and countries to ensure adequate educational and professional infrastructures were in place to absorb the changes.

‘So long as we’re all pulling in the same direction, we might just do it,’ Keegan said.

Global standards conference special, page 6

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