GLOBAL - An Exposure Draft (ED) on the recognition and disclosure of changes in defined benefit pension scheme obligations has been scheduled for publication by the International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) this month.

In an updated work plan showing the "best estimate" of publication dates, the IASB puts the publication of the Exposure Draft as April 2010, with an updated International Financial Reporting Standard (IFRS) still scheduled for the first quarter of 2011.

The IASB has been conducting a long-running project in its bid to improve the existing pension accounting system which, among other issues, has looked at "limited scope amendments to IAS 19" ahead of a fundamental review of all aspects of post-employment benefit accounting.

Following an original discussion paper in March 2008, the IASB agreed to work on three separate exposure drafts focusing on:

The discount rate for measuring employee benefits; The recognition and presentation of changes in the DB obligation and in plan assets, disclosures, and other issues that can be addressed expeditiously, and Contribution-based promises, potentially as part of a comprehensive review of pension accounting.

But the IASB decided not to proceed with changes to the discount rate in October last year, and noted it does "not expect to discuss this project before it publishes the Exposure Draft on recognition, disclosures and other issues. It expects to publish the ED in April 2010." (See earlier IPE article: IASB cancels plan to alter IAS19 discount rate source)

The IASB noted in its work plan that while the dates are the latest estimates, "the timetable for completion is subject to change depending on input received throughout a project's development".

Stephen Cooper, member of the IASB board, told delegates at last month's National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) annual investment conference that the IASB is "willing to listen" to alternatives to the existing mark-to-market pricing adopted in pensions accounting.

He also confirmed the issue of DC accounting would be addressed in a separate document from the upcoming ED on recognition and disclosure and said the new ED would include the removal of the "corridor" smoothing approach and change the way interest and expense items are calculated. (See earlier IPE article: IASB 'willing to listen' on pensions accounting)

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