JEDDAH – There are no legal constraints which prevent Saudi Accounting Standards converging with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) – the business reporting standards used around the world – a conference held recently in Riyadh organized by the Saudi Organization for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA) and ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) noted.
More than 400 business leaders attended the event at the Prince Sultan University.
A panel of experts discussed the feasibility of converging Saudi Accounting Standards to IFRS and looked at the impact of convergence, with listed companies scheduled to begin reporting their annual performance under IFRS from 2017.
The panelists were: Dr. Ahmad Bin Abdulla Al-Meghames - Secretary General – SOCPA; Khalil Al Sedais - Partner & Head of Audit - KPMG Saudi Arabia; Casey Blatch - Financial Planning / Reporting Manager - Al Marai Group: Mohammed Sohail Nini - Executive Director, Assurance – Ernst & Young; Saudi Arabia and Gavin J. Leake – Senior Audit and Advisory Director - Deloitte Saudi Arabia. They answered questions from the audience and looked at a range of issues. The panel was moderated by Muhammad Farhan – Associate Director – KPMG Saudi Arabia.
Asked whether IFRS requires a change in Saudi laws or contradict Shariah laws, Dr Meghames said: “SOCPA has already consulted their legal advisors to check if any IFRS contradicts local regulations and Shariah law(s), and it was informed that no IFRS contradicts with aforesaid laws, based on initial studies. However, SOCPA may require additional disclosures to be presented in the financial statements, in case local regulations need supplementary data.”
He also outlined how SOCPA has already communicated the details of IFRSs/ SOCPA standards convergence project to Department of Zakat and tax (DZIT), CMA and MoCI, had discussed their concerns and obtained their general consent that their rules and policies did not contradict with IFRSs.
He also confirmed it was a two-way process of communication with all stakeholders, where SOCPA was contacting the regulating bodies, corporates, banks, audit firms and other related bodies and invited stakeholders to provide their input to SOCPA directly.
The panelists also looked at how universities are preparing students for reporting under IFRS requirements, what measures listed companies were taking to meeting the deadline and what non-listed companies should be doing in the run up to 2018, when they will have to implement IFRS.
Anis Motorwala, ACCA’s Head of the Northern Gulf, said “ACCA was delighted to work with SOCPA to provide this opportunity for finance professionals to ask questions about the convergence with IFRS and to look at the opportunities and challenges which will arise as Saudi moves to use financial reporting standards which are used around the world and which will open even more opportunities for Saudi businesses to work with business partners around the world. As a body which has long championed the use of IFRS – as it provides a level playing field for businesses and investors – ACCA stands ready to support SOCPA in the transition to IFRS.” — SG