Framework for Preparation and presentation of financial statements

  • By TeamKoncept
  • 20 June, 2023
Framework for Preparation and presentation of financial statements

Framework for Preparation and presentation of financial statements

Table of Content

The development of accounting standards or any other accounting guidelines need a foundation of underlying principles (ASB) of ICAI issued a framework in July, 2000 which provides the fundamental basis for development of new standards as also for review of existing standards. The principal areas covered by the framework are as follows:
  1. Components of financial statements;
  2. Objectives of financial statements;
  3. Assumptions underlying financial statements;
  4. Qualitative characteristics of financial statements;
  5. Elements of financial statements;
  6. Criteria for recognition of elements in financial statements;
  7. Principles for measurement of financial elements;
  8. Concepts of Capital and Capital Maintenance.


The framework sets out the concepts underlying the preparation and presentation of general-purpose financial statements prepared by enterprises for external users. The main purpose of the framework is to assist:
  1. Enterprises in preparation of their financial statements in compliance with Accounting Standards and in dealing with the topics not yet covered by any Accounting Standard,
  2. ASB in its task of development and review of Accounting Standards,
  3. ASB in promoting harmonisation of regulations, Accounting Standards and procedures relating to the preparation and presentation of financial statements by providing a basis for reducing the number of alternative accounting treatments permitted by Accounting Standards,
  4. Auditors in forming an opinion as to whether financial statements conform to the Accounting Standards,
  5. Users in interpretation of financial statements,
  6. those who are interested in the work of ASB with information about its approach to the formulation of Accounting Standards.


The framework applies to general-purpose financial statements (hereafter referred to as ‘financial statements’ usually prepared annually for external users, by all commercial, industrial and business enterprises, whether in public or private sector. The special purpose financial reports, for example computations prepared for tax purposes are outside the scope of the framework. Nevertheless, the framework may be applied in preparation of such reports, to the extent not inconsistent with their requirements.

Nothing in the framework overrides any specific Accounting Standard. In case of conflict between an Accounting Standard and the framework, the requirements of the Accounting Standard will prevail over those of the framework.


A complete set of financial statements normally consists of a Balance Sheet, a Statement of Profit and Loss and a Cash Flow Statement together with notes, other statements and explanatory materials that form an integral part of the financial statements.

All components of the financial statements are interrelated because they reflect different aspects of same transactions or other events. Although each statement provides information that is different from each other, none in isolation is likely to serve any single purpose nor can anyone provide all information needed by a user.

The major information contents of different components of financial statements are explained as below:

Balance Sheet portrays value of economic resources controlled by an enterprise. It also provides information about liquidity and solvency of an enterprise which is useful in predicting the ability of the enterprise to meet its financial commitments as they fall due.

Statement of Profit and Loss presents the result of operations of an enterprise for an accounting period, i.e., it depicts the performance of an enterprise, in particular its profitability.

Cash Flow Statement shows the way an enterprise has generated cash and the way they have been used in an accounting period and helps in evaluating the investing, financing and operating activities during the reporting period.

Notes and other statements present supplementary information explaining different items of financial statements. For example, they may contain additional information that is relevant to the needs of users about the items in the balance sheet and statement of profit and loss. They include various other disclosures such as disclosure of accounting policies, segment reporting, related party disclosures, earnings per share, etc.


The objective of financial statements is to provide information about the financial position, performance and cash flows of an enterprise that is useful to a wide range of users in making economic decisions.
All users of financial statements expect the statements to provide useful information needed to make economic decisions. The financial statements provide information to suit the common needs of most users. However, they cannot and do not intend to provide all information that may be needed, e.g. they do not provide non-financial data even if they may be relevant for making decisions.

The aforesaid users use financial statements in order to satisfy some of their information needs. These needs may include the following:
  1. Investors - The providers of risk capital are concerned with the risk inherent in, and return provided by, their investments. They are also interested in information which enables them to assess the ability of the enterprise to pay dividends.
  2. Employees - Employees and their representative groups are interested in information about the stability and profitability of their employers. They are also interested in information which enables them to assess the ability of the enterprise to provide remuneration, retirement benefits and employment opportunities.
  3. Lenders - Lenders are interested in information which enables them to determine whether their loans, and the interest attaching to them, will be paid when due.
  4. Suppliers and other trade creditors - Suppliers and other creditors are interested in information which enables them to determine whether amounts owing to them will be paid when due. Trade creditors are likely to be interested in an enterprise over a shorter period than lenders unless they are dependent upon the continuance of the enterprise as a major customer.
  5. Customers - Customers have an interest in information about the continuance of an enterprise, especially when they have a long term involvement with, or are dependent on, the enterprise for their goods and services.
  6. Governments and their agencies - Governments and their agencies are interested in the allocation of resources and, therefore, the activities of enterprises. They also require information in order to regulate the activities of enterprises and determine taxation policies, and to serve as the basis for determination of national income and similar statistics.
  7. Public - Enterprises affect members of the public in a variety of ways. For example, enterprises may make a substantial contribution to the local economy in many ways including the number of people they employ and their patronage of local suppliers. Financial statements may assist the public by providing information about the trends and recent developments in the prosperity of the enterprise and the range of its activities.

As per the framework, there are three fundamental accounting assumptions:
These are assumptions, i.e., the users of financial statements believe that the same has been considered while preparing the financial statements. That is why, as long as financial statements are prepared in accordance with these assumptions, no separate disclosure in financial statements would be necessary.

If nothing has been written about the fundamental accounting assumption in the financial statements, then it is assumed that they have already been followed in their preparation of financial statements.

However, if any of the above-mentioned fundamental accounting assumption is not followed then this fact should be specifically disclosed.

Let us discuss these assumptions in detail.

(a) Going Concern: Financial statements are normally prepared on the assumption that an enterprise will continue in operation in the foreseeable future and neither there is an intention, nor there is a need to materially curtail the scale of operations.
Financial statements prepared on going concern basis recognise among other things the need for sufficient retention of profit to replace assets consumed in operation and for making adequate provision for settlement of its liabilities. If any financial statement is prepared on a different basis, e.g. when assets of an enterprise are stated at net realisable values in its financial statements, the basis used should be disclosed.

(b) Accrual Basis: According to AS 1, revenues and costs are accrued, that is, recognised as they are earned or incurred (and not as money is received or paid) and recorded in the financial statements of the periods to which they relate. Further Section 128(1) of the Companies Act, 2013 makes it mandatory for companies to maintain accounts on accrual basis only. It is not necessary to expressly state that accrual basis of accounting has been followed in preparation of a financial statement. In case, any income/ expense is recognised on cash basis, the fact should be stated.

(c) Consistency: It is assumed that accounting policies are consistent from one period to another. The consistency improves comparability of financial statements through time. According to Accounting Standards, an accounting policy can be changed if the change is required
  1. by a statute or
  2. by an Accounting Standard or
  3. for more appropriate presentation of financial statements.


The qualitative characteristics are attributes that improve the usefulness of information provided in financial statements. The framework suggests that the financial statements should observe and maintain the following four qualitative characteristics as far as possible within limits of reasonable cost/ benefit.
These attributes can be explained as:

1. Understandability: The financial statements should present information in a manner as to be readily understandable by the users with reasonable knowledge of business and economic activities and accounting.
2. Relevance: It is not right to think that more information is always better.. A mass of irrelevant information creates confusion and can be even more harmful than non-disclosure.

The financial statements should contain relevant information only. Information, which is likely to influence the economic decisions by the users, is said to be relevant. Such information may help the users to evaluate past, present or future events or may help in confirming or correcting past evaluations. The relevance of a piece of information should be judged by its materiality. A piece of information is said to be material if its misstatement (i.e., omission or erroneous statement) can influence economic decisions of a user taken on the basis of the financial information. Materiality depends on the size and nature of the item or error, judged in the specific circumstances of its misstatement. Materiality provides a threshold or cut-off point rather than being a primary qualitative characteristic which the information must have if it is to be useful.

Further it is important to know the constraints also on Relevant and Reliable Information to better understand the qualitative characteristics of financial statements. Following are some of the constraints:
  1. Timeliness
    If there is undue delay in the reporting of information it may lose its relevance. Management may need to balance the relative merits of timely reporting and the provision of reliable information. To provide information on a timely basis it may often be necessary to report before all aspects of a transaction or other event are known, thus impairing reliability. Conversely, if reporting is delayed until all aspects are known, the information may be highly reliable but of little use to users who have had to make decisions in the interim. In achieving a balance between relevance and reliability, the overriding consideration is how best to satisfy the information needs of users.
  2. Balance between Benefit and Cost
    The balance between benefit and cost is a pervasive constraint rather than a qualitative characteristic. The benefits derived from information should exceed the cost of providing it. The evaluation of benefits and costs is, however, substantially a judgmental process. The preparers and users of financial statements should be aware of this constraint.
3. Reliability: To be useful, the information must be reliable; that is to say, they must be free from material error and bias. The information provided are not likely to be reliable unless:
  1. Transactions and events reported are faithfully represented.
  2. Transactions and events are reported on the principle of 'substance over form (discussed later in AS-1)'.
  3. The reporting of transactions and events are neutral, i.e. free from bias.
  4. Prudence is exercised in reporting uncertain outcome of transactions or events.
  5. The information in financial statements must be complete.
4. Comparability: Comparison of financial statements is one of the most frequently used and most effective tools of financial analysis. The financial statements should permit both inter-firm and intra-firm comparison. One essential requirement of comparability is disclosure of financial effect of change in accounting policies. However, the need for comparability should not be confused with mere uniformity and should not be allowed to become an impediment to the introduction of improved accounting standards. It is not appropriate for an enterprise to continue accounting in the same manner for a transaction or other event if the policy adopted is not in keeping with the qualitative characteristics of relevance and reliability. It is also inappropriate for an enterprise to leave its accounting policies unchanged when more relevant and reliable alternatives exist.


Financial statements are required to show a true and fair view of the performance, financial position and cash flows of an enterprise. The framework does not deal directly with this concept of true and fair view, yet application of the principal qualitative characteristics and appropriate accounting standards normally results in financial statements portraying true and fair view of information about an enterprise.

The framework classifies items of financial statements in five broad groups depending on their economic characteristics 
Gains and losses differ from income and expenses in the sense that they may or may not arise in the ordinary course of business. Except for the way they arise, economic characteristics of gains are same as income and those of losses are same as expenses. For these reasons, gains and losses are not recognised as separate elements of financial statements.

Let us discuss each element of financial statement in detail.

1. Asset: An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise as a result of past events from which future economic benefits are expected to flow to the enterprise. The following points must be considered while recognising an asset:
  1. The resource regarded as an asset, need not have a physical substance. The resource may represent a right generating future economic benefit, e.g. patents, copyrights, trade receivables. An asset without physical substance can be either intangible asset, e.g. patents and copyrights or monetary assets, e.g. trade receivables. The monetary assets are money held and assets to be received in fixed or determinable amounts of money.
  2. An asset is a resource controlled by the enterprise. This means it is possible to recognise a resource not owned but controlled by the enterprise as an asset, i.e., legal ownership may or may not vest with the enterprise. Such is the case of financial lease, where lessee recognises the asset taken on lease, even if ownership lies with the lessor. Likewise, the lessor does not recognise the asset given on finance lease as asset in his books, because despite of ownership, he does not control the asset.
  3. A resource cannot be recognised as an asset if the control is not sufficient. For this reason specific management or technical talent of an employee cannot be recognised because of insufficient control. When the control over a resource is protected by a legal right, e.g. copyright, the resource can be recognised as an asset.
  4. To be considered as an asset, it must be probable that the resource generates future economic benefits. If the economic benefits from a resource is expected to expire within the current accounting period, it is not an asset. For example, economic benefits, i.e. profit on sale, from machinery purchased by an enterprise who deals in such kind of machinery is expected to expire within the current accounting period. Such purchase of machinery is therefore booked as an expense rather than capitalised in the machinery account. However, if the articles purchased by a dealer remain unsold at the end of accounting period, the unsold items are recognised as assets, i.e. closing stock, because the sale of the article and resultant economic benefit, i.e. profit is expected to be earned in the next accounting period.
  5. To be considered as an asset, the resource must have a cost or value that can be measured reliably.
  6. When flow of economic benefit to the enterprise beyond the current accounting period is considered improbable, the expenditure incurred is recognised as an expense rather than as an asset.
2. Liability: A liability is a present obligation of the enterprise arising from past events, the settlement of which is expected to result in an outflow of a resource embodying economic benefits. The following points may be noted:
  1. A liability is a present obligation, i.e. an obligation the existence of which, based on the evidence available on the balance sheet date is considered probable. For example, an enterprise may have to pay compensation if it loses a damage suit filed against it. The damage suit is pending on the balance sheet date. The enterprise should recognise a liability for damages payable by a charge against profit if it is probable that the enterprise will lose the suit and if the amount of damages payable can be ascertained with reasonable accuracy. The enterprise should create a provision for damages payable by charge against profit, if probability of losing the suit is more than not losing it and if the amount of damages payable can be ascertained with reasonable accuracy. In other cases, the company reports the damages payable as ‘contingent liability’, which does not meet the definition of liability. Accounting standards 29 defines provision as a liability, which can be measured only by using a substantial degree of estimation.
  2. It may be noted that certain provisions, e.g. provisions for doubtful debts, depreciation and impairment losses, represent diminution in value of assets rather than obligations. These provisions are outside the scope of Accounting Standard 29 and hence should not be considered as liability.
  3. A liability is recognised only when outflow of economic resources in settlement of a present obligation can be anticipated and the value of outflow can be reliably measured. Otherwise, the liability is not recognised. For example, liability cannot arise on account of future commitment. A decision by the management of an enterprise to acquire assets in the future does not, of itself, give rise to a present obligation. An obligation normally arises only when the asset is delivered or the enterprise enters into an irrevocable agreement to acquire the asset.
3. Equity: Equity is defined as residual interest in the assets of an enterprise after deducting all its liabilities. It is important to avoid mixing up liabilities with equity. Equity is the excess of aggregate assets of an enterprise over its aggregate liabilities. In other words, equity represents owners’ claim consisting of items like capital and reserves, which are clearly distinct from liabilities, i.e. claims of parties other than owners. The value of equity may change either through contribution from / distribution to equity participants or due to income earned /expenses incurred.

4. Income: Income is increase in economic benefits during the accounting period in the form of inflows or enhancement of assets or decreases in liabilities that result in increase in equity other than those relating to contributions from equity participants. The definition of income encompasses revenue and gains. Revenue is an income that arises in the ordinary course of activities of the enterprise, e.g. sales by a trader. Gains are income, which may or may not arise in the ordinary course of activity of the enterprise, e.g. profit on disposal of Property, Plant and Equipment. Gains are showed separately in the statement of profit and loss because this knowledge is useful in assessing performance of the enterprise.

Income earned is always associated with either increase of asset or reduction of liability. This means, no income can be recognised unless the corresponding increase of asset or decrease of liability can be recognised. For example, a bank does not recognise interest earned on non-performing assets because the corresponding asset (increase in advances) cannot be recognised, as flow of economic benefit to the bank beyond current accounting period is not probable.

5. Expense: An expense is decrease in economic benefits during the accounting period in the form of outflows or depletions of assets or incurrence of liabilities that result in decrease in equity other than those relating to distributions to equity participants. The definition of expenses encompasses expenses that arise in the ordinary course of activities of the enterprise, e.g. wages paid. Losses may or may not arise in the ordinary course of activity of the enterprise, e.g. loss on disposal of Property, Plant and Equipment. Losses are separately shown in the statement of profit and loss because this knowledge is useful in assessing performance of the enterprise.

Expenses are always incurred simultaneously with either reduction of asset or increase of liability. Thus, expenses are recognised when the corresponding decrease of asset or increase of liability are recognised by application of the recognition criteria stated above. Expenses are recognised in Profit & Loss A/c by matching them with the revenue generated. However, application of matching concept should not result in recognition of an item as asset (or liability), which does not meet the definition of asset or liability as the case may be.
Where economic benefits are expected to arise over several accounting periods, expenses are recognised in the profit and loss statement on the basis of systematic and rational allocation procedures. The obvious example is that of depreciation.

An expense is recognised immediately in the profit and loss statement when it does not meet or ceases to meet the definition of asset or when no future economic benefit is expected. An expense is also recognised in the profit and loss statement when a liability is incurred without recognition of an asset, as is the case when a liability under a product warranty arises.


Measurement is the process of determining money value at which an element can be recognised in the balance sheet or statement of profit and loss. The framework recognises four alternative measurement bases. These bases relate explicitly to the valuation of assets and liabilities. The valuation of income or expenses, i.e. profit is implied, by the value of change in assets and liabilities.
In preparation of financial statements, all or any of the measurement basis can be used in varying combinations to assign money values to items, subject to the requirements under the Accounting Standards. However, it may be noted, that Accounting Standards largely uses the ‘historical cost’ for the purpose of preparation of financial statements though for some items, use of other value is permitted, e.g., inventory is recorded at historical costs on its acquisition, however, at year end, it is valued at lower of costs and net realisable value.

A brief explanation of each measurement basis is as follows:

1. Historical Cost: Historical cost means acquisition price. For example, the businessman paid ` 7,00,000 to purchase the machine, its acquisition price including installation charges is ` 8,00,000. The historical cost of machine would be ` 8,00,000.

According to this, assets are recorded at an amount of cash or cash equivalent paid or the fair value of the asset at the time of acquisition. Liabilities are recorded at the amount of proceeds received in exchange for the obligation. In certain circumstances a liability is recorded at the amount of cash or cash equivalent expected to be paid to satisfy the obligation in the normal course of business.

When Mr. X, a businessman, takes ` 5,00,000 loan from a bank @ 10% interest p.a., it is to be recorded at the amount of proceeds received in exchange for the obligation. Here the obligation is the repayment of loan as well as payment of interest at an agreed rate i.e. 10%. Proceeds received are ` 5,00,000 - it is the historical cost of the transaction. Take another case regarding payment of income tax liability. You know that every individual has to pay income tax on his income if it exceeds certain minimum limit. But the income tax liability is not settled immediately when one earns his income. The income tax authority settles it sometime later, which is technically called assessment year. Then how does he record this liability? As per historical cost basis, it is to be recorded at an amount expected to be paid to discharge the liability.

2. Current Cost: Current cost gives an alternative measurement basis. Assets are carried at the amount of cash or cash equivalent that would have to be paid if the same or an equivalent asset was acquired currently. Liabilities are carried at the undiscounted amount of cash or cash equivalents that would be required to settle the obligation currently.

3. Realisable (Settlement) Value: For assets, this is the amount of cash or cash equivalents currently realisable on sale of the asset in an orderly disposal. For liabilities, this is the undiscounted amount of cash or cash equivalents expected to be paid on settlement of liability in the normal course of business.

4. Present Value: Assets are carried at the present value of the future net cash inflows that the item is expected to generate in the normal course of business. Liabilities are carried at the present value of the future net cash outflows that are expected to be required to settle the liabilities in the normal course of business.

Under present value convention, assets are carried at present value of future net cash flows generated by the concerned assets in the normal course of business. Liabilities under this convention are carried at present value of future net cash flows that are expected to be required to settle the liability in the normal course of business.


Capital refers to net assets of a business. Since a business uses its assets for its operations, a fall in net assets will usually mean a fall in its activity level. It is therefore important for any business to maintain its net assets in such a way, as to ensure continued operations at least at the same level year after year. In other words, dividends should not exceed profit after appropriate provisions for replacement of assets consumed in operations. For this reason, the Companies Act does not permit distribution of dividend without providing for depreciation on Property, Plant and Equipment. Unfortunately, this may not be enough in case of rising prices. The point is explained below:

We have already observed: P = (CA – CL) – (OA – OL) – C + D
Where: Profit = P
Opening Assets = OA and Opening Liabilities = OL
Closing Assets = CA and Closing Liabilities = CL
Introduction of capital = C and Drawings / Dividends = D
Retained Profit = P – D = (CA – CL) – (OA – OL) – C

A business should ensure that Retained Profit (RP) is not negative, i.e. closing equity should not be less than capital to be maintained, which is sum of opening equity and capital introduced.

It should be clear from above that the value of retained profit depends on the valuation of assets and liabilities. In order to check maintenance of capital, i.e. whether or not retained profit is negative, we can use any of following three bases:

Financial capital maintenance at historical cost: Under this convention, opening and closing assets are stated at respective historical costs to ascertain opening and closing equity. If retained profit is greater than or equals to zero, the capital is said to be maintained at historical costs. This means the business will have enough funds to replace its assets at historical costs. This is quite right as long as prices do not rise.

Financial capital maintenance at current purchasing power: Under this convention, opening and closing equity at historical costs are restated at closing prices using average price indices. (For example, suppose opening equity at historical cost is ` 3,00,000 and opening price index is 100. The opening equity at closing prices is ` 3,60,000 if closing price index is 120). A positive retained profit by this method means the business has enough funds to replace its assets at average closing price. This may not serve the purpose because prices of all assets do not change at average rate in real situations. For example, price of a machine can increase by 30% while the average increase is 20%.

Physical capital maintenance at current costs: Under this convention, the historical costs of opening and closing assets are restated at closing prices using specific price indices applicable to each asset. The liabilities are also restated at a value of economic resources to be sacrificed to settle the obligation at current date, i.e. closing date. The opening and closing equity at closing current costs are obtained as an excess of aggregate of current cost values of assets over aggregate of current cost values of liabilities. A positive retained profit by this method ensures retention of funds for replacement of each asset at respective closing prices.
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