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Accounting for the bourse

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Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon speaks yesterday at the National Conference on Accountancy in Cambodia.

Financial experts in the Kingdom yesterday called on the banking sector to implement improved corporate governance and increase transparency in order to ensure confidence in companies ahead of trading on the Cambodian Securities Exchange.

Banks in the country have been required to publicly disclose financial information since 2004, though the timeliness and efficiency of report releases demand further improvements, Canadia Bank vice-president Dieter Billmeier said in a speech at the National Conference on Accountancy in Cambodia yesterday.

“In the future, banks should be required to produce, at minimum, half-year reports, as close to the financial year as possible, while credit ratings should also be mandatory," he said.

"Only ACLEDA, Cambodia Public Bank and Canadia Bank have published credit ratings.”

While one central objective of bank regulations remains the raising of public confidence, systematic risk must be reduced, he said.

“We need to reduce the level of risk to which banks are exposed, in order to protect depositors. However, there is currently no deposit insurance in Cambodia.”

While some of the Kingdom’s commercial banks have adjusted their Cambodian-standard bookkeeping to international accounting standards, full compliance may be several years away, Billmeier said.

“I don’t believe these [standards] can be achieved by 2012; a target of 2014-2015 is more realistic.”

While the CSX can use comparatively successful Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange as a template when trading eventually begins, the Vietnamese exchange still faces issues with governance, experts said.

“We have seen a lack of [financial] information and transparency, with over 30 per cent of the listed companies failing to submit financial report on time,” Vietnam Securities Cambodia Plc chief executive officer Duy Anh said.

He said that while the Vietnam stock market was still young compared with developed countries, it was time for “full compliance with regulations on corporate governance from companies”.

“Companies are aiming at coping and complying with regulations, rather than voluntarily committing to improving corporate governance practices,” he said.   The enhancement of good governance within the sector is expected to encourage local and international investors, Association of Chartered Certified Accountants director of Asian emerging markets Lucia Real Martin said.

“The harmonisation of financial reporting around the world will help to raise the confidence of investors in the information they are using to make decisions and asses risks.”

Increased co-operation with global-standard regulations would also assist local companies to prosper, she said.

“Greater confidence in reliable and transparent information will translate into a lower cost of capital, reduced interest costs and higher share prices.”

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