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Audit Readiness (4) – Property, Plant and Equipment

External Auditors of most manufacturing organisations usually scope in PPE as a risk area during their annual audit due to its materiality. A combination of controls testing and substantive testing is usually adopted when obtaining audit assurance on PPE.

The subject matter for discussion on audit readiness this week is Property, Plant and Equipment (PPE). This item falls within the scope of IAS 16. This standard is applicable in accounting for property, plant and equipment, which it defines as tangible items that:

  • Are held for use in the production or supply of goods or services, for rental to others, or for administrative purposes
  • Are expected to be used during more than one period.

The Standard excludes the following from its scope:

Property, plant and equipment classified as held for sale in accordance with IFRS 5 Non-current Assets Held for Sale and Discontinued Operations;

  • Biological assets related to agricultural activity (IAS 41 Agriculture); and
  • Mineral rights and mineral reserves such as oil, natural gas and similar non-regenerative resources.

External Auditors of most manufacturing organisations usually scope in PPE as a risk area during their annual audit due to its materiality. A combination of controls testing and substantive testing is usually adopted when obtaining audit assurance on PPE.

Within the business cycles selected for testing during a particular period, the principal business activities and the sub processes are tested. The objectives for testing the sub processes are:

Acquiring fixed assets

Recorded fixed asset acquisitions represent fixed assets acquired by the organization.

Fixed asset acquisitions are accurately recorded.

Fixed asset acquisitions are recorded in the appropriate period.

All fixed asset acquisitions are recorded.

The recognition criteria for property, plant and equipment are derived from the general principles for asset recognition reflected in the Conceptual Framework for Financial Reporting. An item of property, plant and equipment is to be recognised as an asset if, and only if:

  • It is probable that future economic benefits associated with the asset will flow to the entity; and
  • The cost of the asset to the entity can be measured reliably.

Depreciating fixed assets       

Depreciation charges are valid.

Depreciation charges are accurately calculated and recorded.

All depreciation charges are recorded in the appropriate period.

Depreciation, as defined in IAS 16:6, is the systematic allocation of the depreciable amount of an asset (i.e. the cost of the asset, or other amount substituted for cost, less its residual value) over its useful life. In order to comply with the requirements of IAS 16 relating to depreciation, it is necessary to identify:

The parts (components) of each item of property, plant and equipment that are to be depreciated separately;

  • The cost or valuation of each separately depreciable component;
  • The estimated residual value of each separately depreciable component;
  • The length of time during which each separately depreciable component will be commercially useful to the entity; and
  • The most appropriate depreciation method for each separately depreciable component.

Disposing of fixed assets

Recorded fixed asset disposals represent actual disposals.

All fixed asset disposals are recorded.  

Fixed asset disposals are accurately calculated and recorded.

Fixed asset disposals are recorded in the appropriate period.                                  

Managing fixed assets

Records of fixed asset maintenance activity are accurately maintained.                          

Fixed assets are adequately safeguarded.

Fixed asset maintenance records are updated timely.

Fixed assets reflect the existing business circumstances and economic conditions in accordance with the accounting policies being used.

Financial information is not presented in a misleading way and all information that is necessary for fair presentation and compliance with professional standards or legal requirements is disclosed.

Maintaining fixed asset register and/or master file

Only valid changes are made to the fixed asset register and/or master file.

All valid changes to the fixed asset register and/or master file are input and processed.

Changes to the fixed asset register and/or master file are accurate.

Changes to the fixed asset register and/or master file are processed timely.

Fixed asset register and/or master file data remains pertinent.

External Auditors would always request to examine documents to support the assertions that the above objectives are reasonably met. Processes that do not leave a visible trail are tested via observation or re-performance.

Where internal controls are strong, Auditors may reduce the planned level of substantive assurance. This is usually the case and that is why it is desirable for entities to ensure that internal controls are very in design and also very efficient and effective in operation. 

 Impairment Review

External Auditors may also be interested in entities impairment review documentation. Entities should refer to the requirements of IAS 36 Impairment of Assets to determine whether an item of property, plant and equipment is impaired. IAS 36 explains how an entity reviews the carrying amount of its assets, how it determines the recoverable amount of an asset, and when it recognises or reverses an impairment loss.

Occasionally, an entity may receive a compensation for impairment or loss.  When an asset is impaired, lost or given up, any compensation from third parties is included in profit or loss when the compensation becomes receivable. [IAS 16:65]

Examples of such circumstances include:

Reimbursements by insurance companies after the impairment or loss of items of property, plant and equipment (e.g. due to natural disasters, theft etc.);

Indemnities by governments for items of property, plant and equipment that are expropriated (e.g. compulsory purchase of land to be used for public purposes);

  • Compensation related to the involuntary conversion of items of property, plant and equipment (e.g. relocation of facilities from a designated urban area to a non-urban area in accordance with government land policy); and
  • Physical replacement in whole or in part of an impaired or lost asset.

The Standard emphasises that impairments or losses of items of property, plant and equipment, related claims for or payments of compensation from third parties, and any subsequent purchase or construction of replacement assets are separate economic events and should be accounted for as such. Netting of transactions is not allowed. The three economic events should be accounted for separately as follows:

In respect of impairment or loss:

  • Impairments of items of property, plant and equipment should be recognised in accordance with IAS 36; and
  • Derecognition of items of property, plant and equipment retired or disposed of should be determined in accordance with IAS 16;
  • Compensation from third parties for items of property, plant and equipment that were impaired, lost or given up should be included in determining profit or loss when it becomes receivable; and
  • The cost of items of property, plant and equipment restored, purchased or constructed as replacements should be determined in accordance with IAS 16.

Violation of these rule may result to audit reversals which may taint the competence of the accounting function. 

Derecognition

The Auditors may also test the application of the de-recognition policy.  IAS 16 requires that the carrying amount of an item of property, plant and equipment should be derecognised:

  • On disposal; or
  • When no future economic benefits are expected from its use or disposal.

The reality is that certain organizations still include in the carrying amount of their PPE, the value of PPE of on which future economic benefits are reasonably not expected from their use or disposal.  Their documentation and available facts do not support this assertion.

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