* IASB proposes new 12-member advisory body
* National groups want bigger body, stronger say
By Huw Jones
LONDON, Nov 1 The world's top accounting
rulesetter unveiled plans on Thursday aimed at buttressing its
authority and independence in the face of calls from European
groups for a greater say in how new standards are shaped.
The International Accounting Standards Board (IASB) writes
rules used in over 100 countries, giving it clout that critics
say calls for much greater accountability.
Accounting standards setting has become politically charged
since the financial crisis, as policymakers realise the reach
that rules can have - such as making banks recognise losses
earlier in future, before taxpayer bailouts are needed.
The IASB proposed on Thursday an Accounting Standards
Advisory Forum comprising 12 members from across the world.
The board currently relies on informal, bilateral contacts
with scores of national accounting bodies for input into writing
new rules but this has become unwieldy.
"The answer is to establish a multilateral forum where
representatives of the standard-setting community can come
together with the IASB," said IASB Chairman Hans Hoogervorst.
But what appears to be a modest piece of housekeeping has
already stirred political tensions, not least in Europe, the
region that gave IASB rules global momentum and now feels it
should have strong representation.
Hoogervorst proposes giving Europe three seats, the same as
for the Americas and for Asia-Oceania. It would meet for just a
day and a half, four times a year in London and, crucially, be
chaired by the IASB.
Members would have to sign up to promoting a single set of
global standards - code for no lobbying for national carve-outs
- and respect the IASB's independence.
The IASB plan is in effect an opening gambit as national
standard setters have already filed a counter proposal to the
IASB that proposes a board with up to 20 seats and far greater
parity between the IASB and national standard setters.
"Our proposal is more comprehensive, precise, focused on the
objective of partnership at all stages, not just a forum
controlled by IASB staff," said Jerome Haas, president of the
French accounting standards board ANC.
"We will have to work to find the right balance and
organisation based on the two proposals," Haas told Reuters.
The counter proposal envisages rulemaking as more of a
bottom up process based on evidence and need, rather than being
imposed by the IASB after some local consultation.
The IASB has also been locked in joint talks with the
accounting standards board from the United States, which still
uses its own rules, for a decade to align each others' rules.
But in a blow to the IASB, the United States has deferred a
decision on whether to switch to IASB rules.
Some national accounting bodies from Europe and elsewhere
now say it's time for some of their demands to be more fully
heard after keeping quiet for years, not wanting to upset the
(Editing by Mark Potter)