The IFRS Foundation has launched its 2021 consultation on the shape of its future work programme, with one of the discussion points being a full-scale review of the International Accounting Standards Board’s pensions rule-book, International Accounting Standard 19, Employee Benefits (IAS 19).

Hans Hoogervorst, chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board said: “The Agenda Consultation provides an important opportunity to help shape the Board’s priorities and the future of financial reporting.”

He added that the board’s work programme over the next five years will focus in part on finalising its existing work agenda and carrying out post-implementation reviews of its financial instruments, revenue and leases accounting standards.

Alongside the option of launching a full-scale review of IAS 19, which the board warns would be a ‘large’ project, the IASB is also seeking views on whether it should address:

  • discount rates in the absence of a deep market for high-quality corporate bonds, or
  • hybrid pension promises.

The launch of the consultation comes as the IFRS Foundation contemplates setting up a new board to set sustainability reporting standards.

The IASB currently has three pensions-accounting projects on its work plan:

  • pensions disclosures as part of its Disclosure Initiative—Targeted Standards-level Review of Disclosures;
  • pension benefits that depend on asset returns; and
  • the availability of a refund of contributions.

Interested parties have until 27 September 2021 to make their views known to the board.

Singapore, US regulators to lead IOSCO sustainability standards expert group

The International Organisation of Securities Commissions has welcomed the 22 March announcement by the Trustees of the IFRS Foundation of a working group to prepare the ground for the establishment of a Sustainability Standards Board.

IOSCO, which will join the group, said it looks forward to “collaborating with the working group as it develops its technical recommendations, including planned work to further refine the prototype climate-related disclosure standard … as a basis for the SSB to build on existing initiatives in its standards development.”

IOSCO added that it will set up its own technical expert group (TEG) within its Sustainable Finance Task Force under the joint leadership of the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the US Securities and Exchange Commission. The IOSCO TEG will assess the IFRS Foundation’s progress on developing its prototype reporting framework ahead of COP26 in November.

Commenting on the Foundation’s work so far, IOSCO said it “views the proposed SSB and its future standards as a promising solution for achieving consistent, comparable, and reliable cross-border sustainability-related reporting requirements”.

The statement continues that IOSCO will “encourage IOSCO members and relevant authorities to consider the standards when setting sustainability-related disclosure requirements.”

COVID-19 relief amendment extended

The IASB has announced an extension to its May 2020 amendment to IFRS 16 Leases aimed at easing the burden on lessees of applying the standard during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The concession was due to expire on 30 June this year but will now remain available to lessees until 30 June 2022.

It means lessees will not need to reassess their leasing contracts for accounting purposes – a potentially time-consuming and costly process – where a lessor varies lease payments to take account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

PRAG questions climate-change disclosure location

The UK Pensions Research Accountants Group (PRAG) has published a guidance note dealing with new investment disclosure requirements brought in since the release of the pensions Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) in 2018.

The SORP came about in response to updates to the financial reporting framework in the UK and Ireland.

The PRAG said in a statement that although the new guidance does “not affect financial reporting disclosures,” they will “have an impact on the information included in the annual report of pension schemes”.

Shona Harvie, who chairs the PRAG executive, added that climate-change disclosures will likely add to the volume of disclosures in pension scheme reports and accounts.

She warned that thought should be given to whether “the annual report is the right place for this information.”

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