ACRA makes a big move to XBRL

ACRA makes a big move to XBRL

ACRA, the government agency that regulates all registered businesses in Singapore, recently made a major change to their online corporate filing system. The old system (called FS Manager) will be de-commissioned on 29th February 2013.  Replacing it will be a new and improved system called BizFinX.   It is planned to be rolled out on 3rd March 2014.

One of the significant points in the new BizFinX is the way some components of the Annual Filing is managed, in particular XBRL. XBRL stands for eXtensible Business Reporting Language. The Accounting & Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA) requires all applicable Singapore companies to submit their annual financial statements (FS) filings in XBRL format.

The obvious question on everyone’s mind is how does it affect me.  Without going into too much details, this quote gives a good summary.

If previously your company was NOT required to make an XBRL filing, the same will hold true in the new BizFinX system.  Conversely, all companies required to file XBRL in the old system, will also be required to do so in the new system.

This assumes that that there in no change in ownership structure of the Company as well as solvency status of the company.

BizFinX is NOT changing the annual filing requirements.  It is merely changing the filing method. So if you were previously required to file XBRL, then you will now need to ensure that it is in XBRL format.  Basically, XBRL is a file format (such as .pdf, .doc, .ppt etc) which is system readable (.xbrl) and is currently accepted as world standard for financial reporting.

The need for XBRL filing arises because of the increased requirement to provide timely and analytical data those who need it for example policymakers, analysts and other users of data. Imagine the vast number of companies performing annual filings each year.  The current method is to merely scan their financial statements in pdf statements and upload them accordingly.  Submitting such pdf documents, makes the task of analyzing the data a virtually impossible exercise.  Since the introduction of the globally accepted .xbrl filings, it is now much easier for such data to be compiled analyzed and put to use by a number of agencies by way of simple clicks.

By way of analogy, XBRL can be considered as having all companies use the exact same (accounting) software to file their accounts with ACRA.  This allows ACRA or government agencies and other users to easily analyse and compare it through simple application tools.

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