Preface Financial statements are prepared and presented for external users by many enterprises around the world. Although such financial statements may appear similar from country to country, there are differences which have probably been caused by a variety of social, economic and legal circumstances and by different countries having in mind the needs of different users of financial statements when setting national requirements. These different circumstances have led to the use of a variety of definitions of the elements of financial statements; that is, for example, assets, liabilities, equity, income and expenses. They have also resulted in the use of different criteria for the recognition of items in the financial statements and in a preference for different bases of measurement. The scope of the financial statements and the disclosures made in them have also been affected. The International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC) is committed to narrowing these differences by seeking to harmonize regulations, accounting standards and procedures relating to the preparation and presentation of financial statements.
It believes that further harmonization can best be pursued by focusing on financial statements that are prepared for the purpose of providing information that is useful in making economic decisions. The Board of IASC believes that financial statements prepared for this purpose meet the common needs of most users. This is because nearly all users are making economic decisions, for example, to: (a) decide when to buy, hold or sell an equity investment; (b) assess the stewardship or accountability of management; (c) assess the ability of the enterprise to pay and provide other benefits to its employees; (d) assess the security for amounts lent to the enterprise; (e) determine taxation policies; (f) determine distributable profits and dividends; (g) prepare and use national income statistics; or (h) regulate the activities of enterprises. The Board recognises, however, that governments, in particular, may specify different or additional requirements for their own purposes.
These requirements should not, however, affect financial statements published for the benefit of other users unless they also meet the needs of those other users. Financial statements are most commonly prepared in accordance with an accounting model based on recoverable historical cost and the nominal financial capital maintenance concept. Other models and concepts may be more appropriate in order to meet the objective of providing information that is useful for making economic decisions although there is presently no consensus for change. This Framework has been developed so that it is applicable to a range of accounting models and concepts of capital and capital maintenance.
Introduction Purpose and Status 1. This Framework sets out the concepts that underlie the preparation and presentation of financial statements for external users. The purpose of the Framework is to: (a) assist the Board of IASC in the development of future International Accounting Standards and in its review of existing International Accounting Standards; (b) assist the Board of IASC in promoting harmonization of regulations, accounting standards and procedures relating to the presentation of financial statements by providing a basis for reducing the number of alternative accounting treatments permitted by International Accounting Standards; (c) assist national standard-setting bodies in developing national standards; (d) assist preparers of financial statements in applying International Accounting Standards and in dealing with topics that have yet to form the subject of an International Accounting Standard; (e) assist auditors in forming an opinion as to whether financial statements conform with International Accounting Standards; (f) assist users of financial statements in interpreting the information contained in financial statements prepared in conformity with International Accounting Standards; and (g) provide those who are interested in the work of IASC with information about its approach to the formulation of International Accounting Standards. 2. This Framework is not an International Accounting Standard and hence does not define standards for any particular measurement or disclosure issue. Nothing in this Framework overrides any specific International Accounting Standard.
3. The Board of IASC recognises that in a limited number of cases there may be a conflict between the Framework and an International Accounting Standard. In those cases where there is a conflict, the requirements of the International Accounting Standard prevail over those of the Framework. As, however, the Board of IASC will be guided by the Framework in the development of future Standards and in its review of existing Standards, the number of cases of conflict between the Framework and International Accounting Standards will diminish through time. 4. The Framework will be revised from time to time on the basis of the Board's experience of working with it.
Scope 5. The Framework deals with: (a) the objective of financial statements; (b) the qualitative characteristics that determine the usefulness of information in financial statements; (c) the definition, recognition and measurement of the elements from which financial statements are constructed; and (d) concepts of capital and capital maintenance. 6. The Framework is concerned with general purpose financial statements (hereafter referred to as 'financial statements') including consolidated financial statements. Such financial statements are prepared and presented at least annually and are directed toward the common information needs of a wide range of users. Some of these users may require, and have the power to obtain, information in addition to that contained in the financial statements.
Many users, however, have to rely on the financial statements as their major source of financial information and such financial statements should, therefore, be prepared and presented with their needs in view. Special purpose financial reports, for example, prospectuses and computations prepared for taxation purposes, are outside the scope of this Framework. Nevertheless, the Framework may be applied in the preparation of such special purpose reports where their requirements permit. 7. Financial statements form part of the process of financial reporting. A complete set of financial statements normally includes a balance sheet, an income statement, a statement of changes in financial position (which may be presented in a variety of ways, for example, as a statement of cash flows or a statement of funds flow), and those notes and other statements and explanatory material that are an integral part of the financial statements.
They may also include supplementary schedules and information based on or derived from, and expected to be read with, such statements. Such schedules and supplementary information may deal, for example, with financial information about industrial and geographical segments and disclosures about the effects of changing prices. Financial statements do not, however, include such items as reports by directors, statements by the chairman, discussion and analysis by management and similar items that may be included in a financial or annual report. 8. The Framework applies to the financial statements of all commercial, industrial and business reporting enterprises, whether in the public or the private sectors. A reporting enterprise is an enterprise for which there are users who rely on the financial statements as their major source of financial information about the enterprise.
Users and Their Information Needs 9. The users of financial statements include present and potential investors, employees, lenders, suppliers and other trade creditors, customers, governments and their agencies and the public. They use financial statements in order to satisfy some of their different needs for information. These needs include the following: (a) Investors. The providers of risk capital and their advisers are concerned with the risk inherent in, and return provided by, their investments.
They need information to help them determine whether they should buy, hold or sell. Shareholders are also interested in information which enables them to assess the ability of the enterprise to pay dividends. (b) Employees. Employees and their representative groups are interested in information about the stability and profitability of their employers. They are also interested in information which enables them to assess the ability of the enterprise to provide remuneration, retirement benefits and employment opportunities. (c) Lenders.
Lenders are interested in information that enables them to determine whether their loans, and the interest attaching to them, will be paid when due. (d) Suppliers and other trade creditors. Suppliers and other creditors are interested in information that enables them to determine whether amounts owing to them will be paid when due. Trade creditors are likely to be interested in an enterprise over a shorter period than lenders unless they are dependent upon the continuation of the enterprise as a major customer.
(e) Customers. Customers have an interest in information about the continuance of an enterprise, especially when they have a long-term involvement with, or are dependent on, the enterprise. (f) Governments and their agencies. Governments and their agencies are interested in the allocation of resources and, therefore, the activities of enterprises. They also require information in order to regulate the activities of enterprises, determine taxation policies and as the basis for national income and similar statistics.
(g) Public. Enterprises affect members of the public in a variety of ways. For example, enterprises may make a substantial contribution to the local economy in many ways including the number of people they employ and their patronage of local suppliers. Financial statements may assist the public by providing information about the trends and recent developments in the prosperity of the enterprise and the range of its activities. 10. While all of the information needs of these users cannot be met by financial statements, there are needs which are common to all users.
As investors are providers of risk capital to the enterprise, the provision of financial statements that meet their needs will also meet most of the needs of other users that financial statements can satisfy. 11. The management of an enterprise has the primary responsibility for the preparation and presentation of the financial statements of the enterprise. Management is also interested in the information contained in the financial statements even though it has access to additional management and financial information that helps it carry out its planning, decision-making and control responsibilities.
Management has the ability to determine the form and content of such additional information in order to meet its own needs. The reporting of such information, however, is beyond the scope of this Framework. Nevertheless, published financial statements are based on the information used by management about the financial position, performance and changes in financial position of the enterprise.