MEANING AND FEATURES OF ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES

MEANING AND FEATURES OF ACCOUNTING PRINCIPLES
For searching the goals of the accounting profession and for
expanding knowledge in this field, a logical and useful set of principles
and procedures are to be developed. We know that while driving our
vehicles, follow a standard traffic rules. Without adhering traffic rules,
there would be much chaos on the road. Similarly, some principles apply
to accounting. Thus, the accounting profession cannot reach its goals in
the absence of a set rules to guide the efforts of accountants and
auditors. The rules and principles of accounting are commonly referred to
as the conceptual framework of accounting.

Accounting principles have been defined by the Canadian Institute
of Chartered Accountants as “The body of doctrines commonly associated
with the theory and procedure of accounting serving as an explanation of
current practices and as a guide for the selection of conventions or
procedures where alternatives exists. Rules governing the formation of
accounting axioms and the principles derived from them have arisen
from common experience, historical precedent statements by individuals
and professional bodies and regulations of Governmental agencies”.

According to Hendriksen (1997), Accounting theory may be defined as
logical reasoning in the form of a set of broad principles that (i) provide a
general frame of reference by which accounting practice can be
evaluated, and (ii) guide the development of new practices and
procedures. Theory may also be used to explain existing practices to
obtain a better understanding of them. But the most important goal of
accounting theory should be to provide a coherent set of logical principles
that form the general frame of reference for the evaluation and
development of sound accounting practices.
The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA) has
advocated the use of the word “Principle” in the sense in which it means
“rule of action”. It discuses the generally accepted accounting principles
as follows:

Financial statements are the product of a process in which a large
volume of data about aspects of the economic activities of an enterprise
are accumulated, analysed and reported. This process should be carried
out in conformity with generally accepted accounting principles. These
principles represent the most current consensus about how accounting
information should be recorded, what information should be disclosed,
how it should be disclosed, and which financial statement should be
prepared. Thus, generally accepted principles and standards provide a
common financial language to enable informed users to read and
interpret financial statements.
Generally accepted accounting principles encompass the
conventions, rules and procedures necessary to define accepted
accounting practice at a particular time……. generally accepted
accounting principles include not only broad guidelines of general
application, but also detailed practices and procedures (Source: AICPA
Statement of the Accounting Principles Board No. 4, “Basic Concepts and
Accounting Principles underlying Financial Statements of Business
Enterprises “, October, 1970, pp 54-55)

According to ‘Dictionary of Accounting’ prepared by Prof. P.N.
Abroal, “Accounting standards refer to accounting rules and procedures
which are relating to measurement, valuation and disclosure prepared by
such bodies as the Accounting Standards Committee (ASC) of a
particular country”. Thus, we may define Accounting Principles as those
rules of action or conduct which are adopted by the accountants
universally while recording accounting transactions. Accounting
principles are man-made. They are accepted because they are believed to
be useful. The general acceptance of an accounting principle usually
depends on how well it meets the following three basic norms: (a)
Usefulness; (b) Objectiveness; and (c) Feasibility.

A principle is useful to the extent that it results in meaningful or
relevant information to those who need to know about a certain business.
In other words, an accounting rule, which does not increase the utility of
the records to its readers, is not accepted as an accounting principle. A
principle is objective to the extent that the information is not influenced
by the personal bias or Judgement of those who furnished it. Accounting
principle is said to be objective when it is solidly supported by facts.
Objectivity means reliability which also means that the accuracy of the
information reported can be verified. Accounting principles should be
such as are practicable. A principle is feasible when it can be
implemented without undue difficulty or cost. Although these three
features are generally found in accounting principles, an optimum
balance of three is struck in some cases for adopting a particular rule as
an accounting principle. For example, the principle of making the
provision for doubtful debts is found on feasibility and usefulness though
it is less objective. This is because of the fact that such provisions are not
supported by any outside evidence.