IASB proposes accounting standard for rate-regulated companies

The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) is proposing a new accounting standard that would require companies subject to rate regulation to give investors better information about their financial performance

Rate regulation, which is common in some industries, including the utilities and public transport industries, determines the amount a company can charge its customers for goods or services supplied to them and the period when the company can charge that amount.

In some cases, the period when a company supplies goods or services differs from the period when the company can charge customers for those goods or services, and thus differs from the period when the company reports revenue in its income statement.

IASB says that when those differences in timing occur, the revenue a company reports for a period in its income statement and the assets and liabilities it reports in its balance sheet do not give a complete picture of the amount that the rate regulation entitles the company to charge for goods or services supplied in that period.

Currently, IFRS standards do not require companies to give investors information about those differences in timing.

The proposed standard would introduce a requirement for companies to give investors such information by reporting regulatory assets and regulatory liabilities in their balance sheet, and related regulatory income and regulatory expense in their income statement.

Under the proposals, regulatory assets and liabilities would be measured at historical cost, modified for subsequent measurement by using updated estimates of the amount and timing of future cashflows. The estimated future cashflows of a regulatory asset or liability would be discounted to their present value by using the regulatory interest rate.

After initial recognition, the carrying amount of the regulatory asset or liability would be updated at the end of each reporting period to reflect conditions existing at that date.

IASB argued this information would complement the information companies already provide by applying current IFRS standards and give investors a more complete picture. The additional information would help investors understand which fluctuations in the relationship between a company’s revenue and expenses are caused by differences in timing and enable investors to make better assessments of the company’s prospects for future cash flows.

Hans Hoogervorst, IASB chair, said: ‘Rate regulation can have a big impact on a company’s revenue and profit, but currently investors don’t get the full picture of this impact.

‘Our proposed new IFRS standard will require additional information to give investors a more complete picture.’

The proposed standard would replace IFRS 14 Regulatory Deferral Accounts.

The exposure draft is open for comment until 30 June.

IASB Exposure draft Regulatory Assets and Regulatory Liabilitieshttps://cdn.ifrs.org/-/media/project/rate-regulated-activities/published-documents/ed2021-rra.pdf?la=en

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