Key to SDG delivery in Africa
Africa’s business and finance sectors have a critical role to play in helping governments deliver the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and professional accountants are in the frontline, according to a recent ACCA report. The SDGs – an ambitious global framework for countries to achieve by 2030 – set out the building blocks of a new type of inclusive prosperity creation. Jamil Ampomah, head of ACCA Africa, said: ‘To make delivery of the SDGs a reality will demand investment, innovation, evaluation and communication. Across these areas the role for the professional accountant is clear. Their unique role in helping businesses with the proposition, creation and capture of value, and their trusted position in effective assessment and communication of progress made, will be vital in achieving these new benchmarks and building a more sustainable future.’ The report, published in late 2018, is a follow-up to a 2017 ACCA report The Sustainable Development Goals: redefining context, risk and opportunity, which received an honours award from UNCTAD’s Intergovernmental Working Group of Experts on International Standards of Accounting and Reporting.
Read the ACCA report, The Sustainable Development Goals: Redefining context, risk and opportunity across Africa.
Bang the e-benefits drum
The Australian government needs to do more to make businesses aware of the benefits of new online services, according to CA ANZ. Michael Croker, CA ANZ Australian tax leader, said: ‘Business communities are set to experience an influx of emerging technologies and online services. The challenge now is getting information about the benefits to businesses so they can get on board. Regulators should also identify ways to reward businesses for embracing new technology. For example, the Australian Tax Office could provide switched-on businesses with lower tax risk ratings.’ Technologies seen as key include single-touch payroll (which will help to streamline employer reporting and reduce the amount of red tape), business register modernisation and e-invoicing.
Shrinking the intangibles gap
A joint report from ACCA and Deloitte has found growing concerns that financial statements no longer reflect underpinning drivers of value in modern business, especially for intangibles, such as R&D costs. Regulators and others are considering how to make disclosures give a more holistic picture of the interdependencies among factors that affect companies’ ability to create value over time. For ACCA, a large part of this gap is intangibles – seen as valuable by the market but not recognised as assets by financial reporting. The report, The capitalisation debate, looks at the extent to which companies using IFRS Standards recognise development costs as assets in different countries and in different sectors. It investigates the factors that may lie behind that asset recognition and makes some suggestions as to how reporting of R&D might be improved.
Audit on the right track
The overall fall in the number of audit areas needing improvement for the 18 months to June 2018 (up to 13% at the larger end of the market), reported by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), is in line with global trends. Amir Ghandar, CA ANZ reporting and assurance leader, said: ‘The ASIC audit inspection programme plays a very important role in Australia’s economy; it’s a sanity check that things are moving in the right direction. It is great to be seeing improvement each time in the raw percentages, which reflects a huge ongoing effort by firms and the profession over the past few years, but we’re under no illusions that more work is needed.’ (See also 'Part of the Solution'.)