Essay on Financial Statements in Malaysia

Presentation of Financial Statements in Malaysia: A Critical Analysis of MASB 1 and MASB i – 1
1. Introduction
Accounting is often said as the language of business (Lavoie, 1987). As a business language, one of the main functions of an accounting system is to provide information, through periodic reports known as financial statements, regarding the financial position, the results of operations and cash flows of a business entity to assist users of such reports in making decisions. The primary objective of Islamic accounting information according to Adnan and Gaffikin (1997) is to facilitate the users in computing zakat obligation.

Human experience proved that any work done without having clear objectives encounters limitations, conflicts and blurred vision in its implementation (AAOIFI SFA No. 1, 1997). As such it is very important that in the process of developing financial accounting standards, a clear objectives of financial accounting been established to ensure inconsistency in standards development. The purpose of this essay is to discuss the objective of financial accounting which underlies the presentation of financial statements in Malaysia as outline in MASB 1: Presentation of Financial Statements and MASB i – 1: Presentation of Financial Statements of Islamic Financial Institutions.

2. Presentation of Financial Statements under the Malaysian Accounting Standards
The overall considerations for the presentation and disclosure of financial statements to be considered by Malaysian business entities is outlined in MASB 1: Presentation of Financial Statements and MASB i – 1: Presentation of Financial Statements of Islamic Financial Institutions. The latter is specifically meant for Islamic financial institution and is also applicable to other business entities conducted on the basis of Islamic principles where appropriate. In Islam, the shariah governs all actions of its followers. As such accounting system and practices in Islamic business entities is expected to be different from conventional accounting practices since the underlying principles adopted are different.
Both standards spell out that the purposes of financial statements are to assist users in making economic decisions and assessing the results of management’s stewardship in managing resources entrusted to it. Also both standards specify that the responsibility for the preparation and presentation of financial statements lie in the hand of the board of directors or similar governing body.
In terms of components of financial statements, MASB i – 1 stated two additional statements which are encourage to be included in the annual reports of Islamic business entities in addition to those statements are generally presented in a financial statements. Generally, a complete set of financial statements includes balance sheet, income statement, a statement of changes in equity, cash flow statement and accounting policies and explanatory notes. The standards also recommended companies to provide additional reports that are considered to be able to assist users in making economic decisions. Examples of such reports are environmental reports and value added statement. In addition to the statements discussed above, MASB i – 1 recommended two other statements to be included in financial statements of companies operated under the Islamic principles. The two statements are Zakat Fund and Qard Fund. Statement of Zakat Fund provides information regarding sources of fund, uses of fund and its balance as at a given date. In Malaysia, the Islamic Religious council of each state is responsible in the collection and distribution of zakat. As such the payment of zakat should be made to the state Islamic Religious council where the business operated. According to decision made by Muslim jurists in the first Zakat conference held in Kuwait in 1984, zakat for a company should be determined based on the company’s net assets (AAOIFI SFA No. 2, 1997). As such, the relevant information to be disclosed and of interest to Muslim users would be the amount of zakat paid and how the amount is determined. In this case, it will not be necessary for the company to present a statement of Zakat Fund. The relevant information regarding the amount and how it was determined may be presented in the notes to the statements. However, in a case where an Islamic bank acts as an amil , the bank is responsible for the collection and distribution of zakat, then, a statement prescribing in detail the sources of fund, uses of fund and its balance as at the end of an accounting period would be more appropriate. Statement of Qard Fund provides information regarding sources of fund, uses of fund during a period and the fund balance as at a given date. Qard according to the fiqh definition is a non-interest bearing loan intended to allow the borrower to use the loaned funds for a period of time with the understanding that the same amount of the loaned funds would be repaid at the end of the period (AAOIFI SFA No. 2, 1997). This type of fund is normally organized as a means of achieving social objectives.

Both standards emphasized fair presentation and compliance with MASB standards as overall considerations to be observed by companies in preparing their financial statements. With regards to accounting policies, MASB 1 required that the management of a company to select and apply accounting policies that would enable the preparation of financial statements which comply with all MASB standards and technical pronouncements. However MASB i – 1 provided that the compliance would not be necessary if the said standard or pronouncement is not relevant. For examples, standard or pronouncement related to interest would deem irrelevant to companies operated under the Islamic principles since interest or riba is prohibited in Islam. In cases where no specific requirements are given in the standards or pronouncements, the standards provided that the management should develop accounting policies to ensure that the financial statements provide relevant and reliable information.

In general, the standards spell out going concern, accrual, consistency and materiality to be adopted by companies in preparing and presenting financial statements. Financial statements of companies should be prepared on a going concern basis unless there are intentions on the part of the management either to liquidate or to cease operations. Any foreseeable uncertainties relating to the ability of a particular company to continue as a going concern should be disclosed.
Generally, accrual basis should be used to prepare the financial statements, except for cash flow information. However, MASB i – 1 provided that the cash basis may be used if approved by the National Shariah Advisory Council of BNM.

Companies should be consistent in the presentation and classification of items in financial statements. However, changes are allowed in certain circumstances. When there is a significant change in the nature of the company’s operation or the change in the presentation will result in more appropriate presentation of events or transactions or a change is required by a MASB standard or technical pronouncement or any regulative requirements.

Materiality should be considered in determining whether items should be presented separately or aggregated with each other. The general rule spell out by the standards in terms of materiality are each material item should be presented separately, while immaterial items should be aggregated with amounts of similar nature or function and need not be presented separately. However, MASB i – 1 provided that where immaterial items are deemed significant to users, such information should be presented separately either on the face of, or in the notes to the financial statements. The standard also required that the nature of immaterial information should be disclosed if it is for purposes of compliance with syariah rulings. For examples prohibited income or expenses such as interest income or expenses.

Both MASB 1 and MASB i – 1 spell out that assets and liabilities should not be offset unless there is a religious (MASB i – 1 only) and/or legal right (MASB i – 1 only) and/or when permitted by another MASB standards. Such offsetting may be made in respect of unearned profit for Murabahah, Bai Bithaman Ajil and Ijarah financing against Murabahah, Bai Bithaman Ajil and rental receivables.
Companies are required to present comparative information in respect of the previous period for all numerical information in the financial statements unless a MASB Standard permits or requires otherwise. Comparative information should also be included in narrative and descriptive information when it is relevant to an understanding of the current period’s financial statements. When change is been made to the presentation and classification of items in the financial statements, to ensure comparability with the current period comparative amounts should be reclassified, unless it is impracticable to do so. The nature, amount and reason for any reclassification should be disclosed. When reclassification of comparative item is not practical, companies should disclose the reason for not reclassifying and the nature of the changes that would have been made if amounts were reclassified.

Preceding to elaborating on the structure and contents of financial statements, MASB i – 1 stressed out that the form and classification used in the financial statements should ensure a fair presentation of their content. At such, an Islamic business enterprise may not follow the traditional presentation and classification as outline in MASB 1. Each statement should be clearly identified and distinguished from other information in the same published documents. Generally, the relevant information would be the name of the enterprise, the coverage or scope of each statement in terms of both the reporting entity and period, the reporting currency and the level of precision used in the presentation of figures in the financial statements. Financial statements should be presented at least annually within a reasonable period after the balance sheet date. If financial statements are presented for a period longer or shorter than a year, the reason for that period is been used and the fact that those comparative amounts for the income statement, changes in equity, cash flows and related notes are not comparable should be disclosed.

With regards to the presentation of balance sheet, MASB 1 spelled out the guidelines to be observed by a company in presenting its assets and liabilities. A company should determine whether or not to present current and non-current of assets and liabilities separately based on the nature of its operations. If classification is not done as to current and non-current, assets and liabilities should be presented broadly in order of their liquidity. Whichever method of presentation is adopted, a company should disclose, for each asset and liability item that combines amounts expected to be recovered or settled both before and after twelve months from the balance sheet date, the amount expected to be recovered or settled after more than twelve months. While MASB i – 1 indicated that the balance sheet should include information regarding assets, liabilities and equity of a company. These elements should be presented separately to ensure fair presentation of a company’s financial position. Assets and liabilities in an Islamic business organization are normally grouped in accordance to the nature of contract such as wadiah, bai’ or ijarah and not so based on current or non-current.

MASB 1 outlined the minimum requirement regarding information to be disclosed on the face of income statement. These are revenue, the results of operating activities, finance costs, share of profits and losses of associates and joint ventures, tax expense, profit and loss from ordinary activities, extraordinary items, minority interest and net profit or loss for the period. In relating to the presentation in income statement, MASB i – 1 required that information regarding income, expenses and net profit or loss for the period be included. These elements according to the standard should be presented separately so that they present fairly the results and performance of an Islamic enterprise’s operations. Additional information comprising analysis of income and expenses should be provided in the notes to the financial statements. MASB i – 1, however proposed that the analysis of income is presented in accordance to the contract used in the operations of an Islamic business enterprise. Examples of contract include mudharabah, musyarakah, wadiah, ijarah murabahah and bai bithaman ajil. The amount of dividend per share, declared or proposed for the period covered by the financial statements should be disclosed either on the face of income statement or in notes to the financial statements.

Both standards required that a separate statement be presented provide information on the changes in equity of a company. The statement should disclose information relating to the net profit or loss for the period, items of income and expenses, gain or loss which are required by other MASB standards to be recognized directly in equity and the cumulative effect of changes in accounting policies and the correction of the fundamental errors (dealt with under MASB 3). A company should also present, either on the statement or in the notes to the financial statements any capital transactions with owners and distribution to owners; the balance of accumulated profit and loss at the beginning of the period and at the balance sheet date, and the movements for the period; and a reconciliation between the carrying amount of each class of equity capital, share premium and each reserve at the beginning and the end of the period, separately disclosing each movement.

MASB 1 required that the information in the cash flow statement been presented in accordance to the requirements sets out in MASB 5. MASB i – 1 sets out that a cash flow statement should report cash flows during the period classified according to operating, investing and financing activities.
Information to be included in the notes to the financial statements would include the basis for preparation of the financial statements and accounting policies adopted; the information required by MASB standards that is not presented elsewhere in the financial statements; and any necessary additional information to ensure fair presentation.

Additional disclosures are prescribed by MASB i – 1 to ensure conformity with the syariah requirements. Examples of these additional disclosures are information regarding the syariah board, zakat obligation and prohibited earnings or expenses.

3. Summary and Conclusion
In the previous section provides a discussion on the requirements pertaining to the presentation of financial statements as outlined in MASB 1 and MASB MASB i – 1. From the preceding discussion, it can be concluded the main different between some of the requirements given in the two standards is due to the needs of an Islamic business enterprise to conform to the requirements of syariah law. To ensure conformity with the syariah law, enterprise operated under the Islamic principles is normally required to appoint a syariah board or advisor. The member of a syariah board will basically be appointed among the Muslim scholars who are specialized in the field of muamalat.

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