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Political Economic and Social Effects of Accounting Standards

Political, Economic & Social effects of Accounting Standard Setters

'The view that accounting standard setters consider the economic, political and social consequences of accounting standards is consistent with the view that accounting reports, if compiled in accordance with accounting standards and other generally accepted principles, will be neutral and objective'

SYNOPSIS

Objectivity and neutrality are the ultimate goals of general purpose financial reporting. However there are many factors involved that make this goal almost impossible to attain. Economic, political and social issues are huge influences on the Accounting Standard setting process, and these influences spill over into everyday accounting, with personal gain often ahead of reliability and objectivity. Users of financial reports have demands that need to be satisfied, and regulatory boards involved in Standard setting have done their best to ensure that information is clear and reliable. Considering these factors, Accounting does not exist in a vacuum, Accountants are human beings, not robots and the profession has strict guidelines and heavy penalties for unprofessional or fraudulent activity. It is thus clear that every attempt is made to acknowledge the operating societal factors, gauge the impact they have on different industries at different times and move from that point. The result than, has to be, the best attempt at a neutral and objective report by the professional accountant.

Economic, political and social issues are powerful driving forces within any society. These issues therefore need to be focused on when major decisions in industries, are being made. One industry that heavily relies on, and incorporates economic, political and social issues in its' decision-making, is that of Accounting. The Accounting profession is made up of many standards and regulatory boards that govern the way in which entities maintain their general-purpose financial reports.

Accounting standards set minimum benchmarks of the quality required in financial reporting. They specify that reporting entities shall prepare general-purpose financial reports and that these reports will comply with Statements of Accounting Concepts (SAC's) and Accounting Standards (Accounting Handbook 2001, SAC1, pg. 3). The 'objective of general purpose financial reporting', (Accounting Handbook 2001, SAC2, pg. 13) is that all general purpose financial reports are prepared to provide users with information about the reporting entity, which is useful for making and evaluating decisions about the allocation of scare resources (Accounting Handbook 2001, SAC1, pg. 4).

These reports 'should' be neutral and objective, free from bias, allowing users to make informed decisions. Considering that the process of 'setting'...

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