Corporate Governance and Accounting Standards in Oman: An Empirical Study on Practices

RELEVANCE:
In recent years, the Oman economy has undergone a number of reforms, resulting in a more market-oriented economy. Particularly, the financial impetus extended by the Sultanate of Oman had signaled the beginning of a positive trend. The size of Oman industry is becoming much bigger and the expectations of various concerned parties are also increasing, which can be satisfied only by good Corporate Governance.
The importance of good Corporate Governance has also been increasingly recognized by the industry for improving the firms’ competitiveness, better corporate performance and better relationship with all stakeholders(1). In oman also the industries have obliged to reform their principles of Governance, for which, Oman companies will now be required to make more and more elaborate disclosures than have been making hitherto. This necessiates to adhere to the uniform and proper accounting standards, as the standards reduce discretion, discrepancy and enhances not only the degree of transparency in sharing of information with the parties concerned but also reinforces the broader role the directors need to play for achieving Corporate objectives in the midst of challenges and adversities.
Here, the Corporate Governance is a voluntary, ethical code of business concerned with the morals, ethics, values, parameters, conduct and behavior of the company and its management. The corporate responsibility begins with the directors who are the mind and soul of a firm.
The Board is expected to act as conscience-keeper of the corporate vision and mission, and devise the right type of systems for organizational effectiveness and satisfaction of stakeholders. Thus, the Corporate Governance is a system of accountability primarily directed towards the shareholders in addition to maximizing the shareholders’ welfare(2), where the debate on disclosure/ transparency issues of Corporate Governance eventually centres around the proper accounting standards and their practices and issues, as the application of accounting standards give a lot of confidence to the corporate management and make the disclosure more effective and ensure the good Corporate Governance to promote a healthy investment climate.
Thus, the study of practices of accounting standards is an important and relevant issue of good Corporate Governance in the present environment, as the standards are viewed as a technical response to call for better financial accounting and reporting; or as a reflection of a society’s changing expectations of corporate behavior and a vehicle in social and political monitoring and control of the enterprise(3).
STUDY:
The old ways of selective and conservative reporting is yielding place to more transparent and voluntary disclosures, in tune with the changing times. There is no alternative to adopting by the corporate entities of new standards of accountability, where the accountability is largely a matter of disclosure, of transparency, of explaining a company’s activities to those to whom the company has responsibilities(4) i.e. the disclosure in simple, understandable and comparable form, forms clearly the basis for accountability, which can be provided only if companies adopt uniform accounting policies and disclose adequate information about the accounting standards followed. Thus, accounting standards ensure the comprehensive disclosure of the corporate’s accountability, which may be regarded as a prime issue and a pre requisite for good Corporate Governance.
An examination of practices of accounting standards, and their issues in Oman industry may help to understand the existing practices of accounting standards, which in turn help in designing the effective standard practices so as to ensure good Corporate Governance leading to a healthy investment environment.
In this context, an attempt is made here to examine the accounting standards and their practices in Oman, with a view to strengthen the accounting standards and improve their practices for good Corporate Governance. The data for the study are obtained from the annual reports (published during 2001-’02) of ten Omani companies of different nature, selected from the top companies in terms of assets. The sample consisted of 6 private and 4 public companies. The simple per centage method is used to analyze the data. The authenticity of the data is verified with the opinions of management, who are aware of the company affairs and Corporate Governance. The corporates’ perceptions on the relevance of accounting standards for good Corporate Governance in the context of Oman are also examined.
STANDARDS IN OMAN:
In any country, the awareness and competitiveness among the corporates would be strengthened when they understand each other and compare their performance, for which the simple, understandable and comparable disclosure is an important instrument. The main objective of disclosure would be fulfilled and the utility of the disclosure towards good Corporate Governance would be improved when the disclosure is done on the basis of uniform and consistent accounting standards. Thus, the development and the practice of uniform accounting standards has become an essential ingredient of Corporate Governance and the various bodies have been contributing their wisdom to strengthen the standards to make the Corporate Governance more effective in the context of the changing corporate environment. The corporate management is also now feeling the pressure for reforming accounting practices and level of transparency emanating from alert lenders, regulatory agencies, financial analysts and above all, board of directors who realize that it is the quality of information which will determine how efficiently they have discharged their responsibilities towards the good Corporate Governance.
In Oman, though the financial statements have been prepared in accordance with International Accounting standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Committee (IASC), interpretations issued by the Standing Interpretation Committee of the IASC and the requirements of the Commercial Companies Law of the Sultanate of Oman and the disclosure requirements set out in the rules for disclosure issued by the Capital Market Authority of the Sultanate of Oman, the disclosure is inadequate and is a negative phenomenon to a country which wishes to be strengthened further, because it cannot hope to tap the GDR market with inadequate financial disclosures, since the more transparent activities of a company governed by the proper accounting standards, the more accurately will its securities be valued(5).
The International Accounting Standards followed in Oman industry are Presentation of Financial Statements (IAS 1); Inventories (IAS 2); Cash Flow Statements (IAS 7); Net Profit or Loss for the period (IAS 8); Fundamental Errors & Changes in Accounting policies (IAS 9); Events After the Balancesheet Date (IAS 10); Construction Contracts (IAS 11); Income Taxes (IAS 12); Segment Reporting (IAS 14); Effects of Changing Prices (IAS 15); Property, Plant and Equipment (IAS 16); Leases (IAS 17); Revenue (IAS 18); Employment Benefits (IAS 19); Accounting for Govt. Grants & Govt. Assistance (IAS 20); Effects of Changes in Foreign Exchange Rates (IAS 21); Business Combinations (IAS 22); Borrowing Costs (IAS 23); Related Party Disclosures (IAS 24); Retirement Benefit Plans (IAS 26); Consolidated Financial Statements (IAS 27); Investments in Associates (IAS 28), Hyperinflationary Economies (IAS 29); Banks & Similar Financial Institutions (IAS 30); Interests in Joint Ventures (IAS 31); Financial Instruments: Disclosure & Presentation (IAS 32); Earnings Per Share (IAS 33); Interim Financial Reporting (IAS 34); Discontinuing Operations (IAS 35); Impairment of Assets (IAS 36); Provisions, Contingent Liabilities & Assets (IAS 37); Intangible Assets (IAS 38); Financial Instruments: Recognition & Measurement (IAS 39); Investment Property (IAS 40); Agriculture (IAS 41).
Though the Oman industry has been following all the International Accounting Standards, in practice, some of them are not free from criticism due to certain inherent weaknesses. The practices of these standards in the Oman industries and the gaps are discussed in what follows with a view to strengthen them for ensuring the good Corporate Governance.
PRACTICES:
The primary and secondary data collected from the select companies are carefully examined to find the extent of compliance with the accounting standards and issues in corporate practices. Some of the important findings are as follows:
i) Perceptions on the relevance of Accounting Standards for Corporate Governance: Except one sample of private companies which has not disclosed its opinion, all others (90% of the sample) have expressed the accounting standards as more relevant for Corporate Governance.
ii) Practices of Accounting Policies Disclosed in Annual Reports: The majority of the sample companies (80%) disclosed twenty to twenty five policies and the remaining is equally distributed between less than twenty and more than twenty five standards disclosed by the select companies. All the select public limited companies have complied with twenty to twenty five accounting standards.
iii) Practices of Inventory Valuation: The sample companies have adopted either the lower of cost or net realisable value or moving average methods for the inventory valuation.
iv) Practices of Preparation of Cash Flow Statement: All the select companies have presented cash flow and changes in equity statements.
v) Corporate Practices of Depreciation: The study revealed that the majority of the sample companies (90%) have followed straight line method for the computation of depreciation and the remaining followed diminishing value method. Further examination revealed that all sample public companies followed the straight line method of depreciation.
vi) Practices of Construction Contracts: The sample consists of one construction company, which has followed per cent of completion method.
vii) Practices of Research & Development: None of the select companies has disclosed the expenditure on research and development.
viii) Practices of other Standards: The study revealed that the accounting practices related to fundamental errors and changes, effects of changing prices, business combinations, hyperinflationary economies, financial statements of banks and similar financial institutions and agriculture were not disclosed by any of the select companies as the companies are not concerned with such activities.
From the analyses of practices and general discussions, some of prime issues of accounting standards in the context of Oman are identified and presented here under in brief.

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Academic Writing Versus Popular Writing

Casual writing in the popular mainstream style is usually very different from the type required in academic settings. One is largely loose and informal, while the other is more conventional and strict. Whenever you write in either style, being mindful of these differences is necessary to keep the material consistent throughout its course.
Contractions. In academic writing, you need to spell out words; in informal writing, you’re free to use common contractions.
Technical terms. In academic writing, the use of technical terms is expected, provided you offer up an accompanying running definition; in popular writing, the use of technical terms should be kept to a minimum, with an in-depth explanation every time.
Groupspeak. In academic writing, you should use “we” when explaining technical terms; during informal use, using specific names (as well as referring to yourself in the first person) are more acceptable.
Abstractions. In academic work, you’re encouraged to emphasize abstractions, with no need for an in-depth explanation; in popular writing, any mention of high concepts should be accompanied with plenty of examples and simplified diagrams.
Passive voice. Using passive voice is actually advisable for academic writing in some cases (when trying to demonstrate that other scientists can accomplish the same results, for instance); in popular writing, passive verbs should be avoided like the plague.
Confidence. In academic writing, you are advised to state your points forcefully, in as succinct a manner as you can; for less-stringent writing, you should hold back on the self-assured statement, showing empathy for the readers’ potential struggle with it.
Most of the best writing software around integrate a facility to check for adherence to formal writing standards. Make sure to take advantage of it when you’re tasked to write in an academic capacity.

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An Online Student’s Guide to Developing Substantive Posts and Papers

As an online student is very likely that you care about the grade you have earned as it is an indicator of your progress in the class. You may have a general idea of what is required to earn the best grade possible but not always understand what it will take to improve your performance both in class discussions and with your written assignments. A common phrase that is used in online schools is substantive – and yet this concept may not be clear as to what it means. Students are also told that they need to demonstrate critical thinking and that may also seem to be vague, unless there is an explanation and format or example provided for you to use. I have been an online educator and worked with students about these very issues. While grading standards may vary among instructors and schools, there is a general standard that all college students should strive for with all of their work in the classroom.
Begin with the Assigned Reading
Whether you are preparing to answer a discussion question or write a paper, you should always start by familiarizing yourself with the required topic or subjects. Every learning activity is meant for you to consider the subject from a particular perspective or point of view. Even if you know something about the topic you can consider the assigned reading to be a refresher, which every student can benefit from. Too often students begin to write a response based upon what they know or believe, rather than create something that has been well-researched. As you review the assigned reading be sure that you are taking notes. There are several different note-taking methods and the most popular methods are Cornell and mind-mapping. The purpose of documenting notes as you read is to acknowledge any information you use in any of your writings, which will help you to avoid plagiarism. The purpose of reading is to develop or strengthen your knowledge base. It is not meant for you to fill in your paper or create a discussion question response. And while new students usually stop here there are still more steps to take.
Develop Your Initial Analysis
Now that you are familiar with the subject it is time to begin to develop your analysis. You can consider this step to be an initial rough draft. Take a look at the required instructions and then begin to write what you know and what you have learned from the assigned readings. This is your initial analysis. To demonstrate critical thinking you want to do more than just recall what you have read. Instead, you want to analyze and synthesize the information, and also think of new ideas, alternative solutions, and perspectives. This is how you show that you are developing something original rather than just using information you have acquired. Tip number one: academic papers and discussion posts are not research reports where you simply gather information from sources and report what you have read. Both require an original analysis that has been well documented.
Learn to Conduct Research
The next step is very important because now you are going to take your original analysis, which is likely opinion-based, and substantiate your ideas with research. The best place to begin is with any online library databases you may have access to. This is your best opportunity to obtain sources that are credible, academic, and scholarly in nature. Often what you will find in a scholarly journal article is an overview of a research study that was conducted. If you find something like this read through the entire article to determine what the research questions were and the purpose of the study that was conducted. You will find an abstract at the beginning of the article that provides an overview so you will know if this relates to what you are writing about. Be sure to read the concluding sections so you understand how this applies to the subject you are writing about. You also do not want to choose sources that are over five years old unless you check with your instructor first.
What most students utilize is an Internet search to find information. If you cannot find information in the online library databases then it is certainly understandable that you will search elsewhere. Before you use any source that you have found online make sure that the information is current, relevant, and credible. This requires that you take time to explore the website and find out information about the author or authors. If you have any doubt about the reliability of the source you are using than the best approach to take us to not source or talk to your instructor. Tip number two: an online source that lists anonymous for the author is generally not acceptable because it cannot be verified. Wikipedia and About.com are a type of resource that most schools do not want students to utilize. As another general rule, older sources should be used only for historical background information.
Completing the Process
Now that you are armed with your original analysis and research that supports the development of your thoughts and ideas, it is time to begin to put it all together. As you were reading through the research you found you should also have been taking notes in a manner similar to what was described for reviewing the assigned classroom readings. You can insert information and citations into your analysis, and you also want to analyze that information so that you demonstrate you are working with the information. What that means is you should never use a direct quote because all that does is fill in your paper or response, which minimizes your ability to demonstrate critical thinking.
Learn to paraphrase information so you show that you are not using that information. The way that I teach students to paraphrase information from their sources is to think about sitting in a classroom and then stating what they have learned from the sources they have read. By the time that you have added information from your sources and weaved into your analysis you will have your initial rough draft. Take time to edit it, read it aloud, and then complete any final edits before you submit it. The best recommendation that I can make is to use a Word document for everything you write so that you can take time to refine it, as well as utilize spelling and grammar checkers. Tip number three: as a general rule there should be no more than one in-text citation per paragraph unless you are presenting historical background information and need the support of your sources.
Becoming Practiced
Does every discussion question response require this level of depth? The answer is obviously no; however, as a college student it is expected that you will have well-developed posts so if you develop a habit of using the steps provided above you will find it is of benefit for all of your work. You can also hold yourself accountable for the work you complete by creating a standard that everything you do will be done with your very best effort. Be sure that you read all of the feedback provided by your instructors because they have an interest in your ongoing development. In addition, always ask questions anytime you need further guidance or clarification. The purpose of this process is to show that you can think for yourself and you don’t need to rely upon sources to complete your discussion question response or written papers. It also helps you move from writing an opinion piece into something more substantive. As you develop a pattern of working in this manner it will become a productive habit – and the outcome will be an improved learning experience and most likely an above average cumulative grade.

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Custom Essay Writing – Should You Buy Essays Online?

Custom essay writing services are rampant on the web these days. Every time I turn around, it seems like there is a new website selling essays to unsuspecting college students around the world. These companies are unethical and doing their customers a major disservice.
Keep reading to find out why you should never pay money for an essay online.
Where do essay writing services get their essays? Although many of these companies would like you to believe that they are creating essays with a qualified team of writers, most of these so-called essay writing services actually outsource their writing to India and other countries. Think of it: someone in New Delhi is getting paid a few bucks an hour to write your college paper.
Why is it so bad to buy an essay that was produced in a foreign country? Besides the obvious waste of an opportunity to grow intellectually and the apparent waste of your college tuition, an essay written by a foreigner is simply not going to reflect the expectations of a college writing class in the United States.
Many custom essay writing services will also provide you with a finished document that is recycled from previously composed work for other customers. Some of these essays even get reproduced online and become easy for your instructor to catch and dismiss as simple plagiarism.
As a college writing instructor myself, I have found it very easy to identify essays that students either buy online or pay someone else to write. It is not difficult and often very obvious when it happens. I want to urge you to think twice (even three times) about making this error next time you think about skipping an assignment and finding an essay for sale on the web. Not only will you be throwing away your college education, you’re also very likely to get caught!

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5 Tips to Effectively Signposting Your Essays

When you are a student in academia chances are you have to write lots of different essays and papers for submission that are persuasive, show evidence of gathering data and have some analytical thinking behind your writing. However, you will also want to link your writing for your readers so that they can follow your cohesive argument throughout your essay or paper, not doing so can cause confusion to the reader and influence them to become uninterested in your work and your arguments.
Tip 1 – Keep it Simple
There is no point confusing your reader in your introduction with what you will be talking about in your conclusion and listing nearly every point that you want to discuss in your paper. This will just cause more confusion. You will want to direct your reader through the essay allowing them to become aware of your train of thought and direction.
Tip 2 – Introduce each area
Introducing what you are going to be talking about in each key area of your work is crucial, as you will need to acknowledge to the reader that it is something that they will want to read in that particular section. It also ‘sets the scene’ for what the reader is about to learn and read during the next section of your work.
Tip 3 – Evaluate sections
Reviewing what you have just written about allows your reader to understand the information you have just put before them. It also allows you to get the reader ready for the next step of your argument in the paper which is vital – linking your paper together is what makes a great and well structured argumentative essay.
Tip 4 – Piece together theories you have previously mentioned
Referring to a previously mentioned theory in your paper is a clear sign to the reader that you have concentrated heavily on the research and writing of your paper. It shows that you understand not only the research topic, but your paper as a whole and bring cohesion and understanding.
Tip 5 – Always remind and guide your reader
Readers forget things as quickly as they have read them, unless you actually point something of importance out to them. You will need to remind a reader throughout your paper about a certain theory or train of though by referring back to instances, or examples that extrapolate your meaning and aids reader understanding.
The main things to remember when making sure your work is leading from one area/section to the next is that your reader is prepare for what they are about to read. Of course, you should always get an experienced person or peer to check over your work too.

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The Growing Advantages and Acceptance of Online Continuing Education for Social Workers in the US

Licensed social workers (LCSW, LSW, and ASW) are required by every state in the U.S. to have a certain number of CEU hours in order to be eligible for renewal of their licenses. Each state has its own requirements in regards to the number of years a license is good for as well as how many CE hours are necessary. The idea of continuing education for social workers is to assure that the SW remains current with research, changes and new approaches applicable to their particular field and job.
Regardless of the level of educational achievement, every practicing LCSW/LSW in the United States has a certain basic number of SW CEUs as required by their individual state’s board in order to renew their license. CE requirements for LCSWs/LSWs can range from 20 CEUs to 45 CEUs. To further complicate matters, each state has unique requirements as to the venue in which these ce credits may be acquired and the documentation required.
Licenses for SWs generally last from two to four years (depending upon the issuing state board) and upon renewal, continuing education for social workers documentation must be available. Some states such as Michigan merely require the documentation be available in case of audit while others require documentation of completion of the courses submitted with the license renewal application.
Continuing education for social workers is not limited to formalized classroom experience by any state and a number of different types of CEUs are acceptable. An LCSW/LSW who prepares papers or research for publication can also gain continuing education from publishing said research. The SW who is continuing their education into the Doctorate level may find some of their renewal social worker CEU requirements are met by the formal classes taken for their degree. However, some U.S. states require a certain number of education units be focused in particular areas that may not be covered by the degree courses.
Satisfying the Continuing Education for Social Worker Requirements for License Renewal
Satisfying state board ce requirements at one time was limited to publishing papers, attending workshops, or formalized classroom instruction. These limited choices put busy professionals at a disadvantage because clients and workload had to be juggled with classroom hours.
Although requirements for continuing education for social workers have been increased in some states in the U.S. the ways in which these continuing education requirements can be satisfied has expanded. One of the most notable and possibly simplest means of satisfying the LCSW, LSW, ASW CEU requirements has been online courses and classes designed to satisfy the state requirements for continuing education. It used to be that a social worker had to manage their professional lives & appointments and work to fit formal classes into their schedule and be absent from their practice during set hours to satisfy the CEUs for renewal. Now, online classes offer flexibility in coursework as well as in class content that meets the needs of the practicing SW and satisfies the State Boards’ requirements.
Continuing education for social workers does not necessarily have to be a matter of selecting only what educational units are available but of little or no interest in the course of the professional’s daily work. Social workers whose practices include family counseling, hospital and nursing or any other field can find courses that not only apply to their clients but also enrich their practices. Online classes that grant CEUS can be found in almost every area of practice and to satisfy almost any professional focus. Such classes provide the necessary documentation, state provider numbers (for CEU verification) and focus upon areas that SWs find of interest and their clients can benefit from.
CE requirements can be accrued slowly during the two to four year period before license renewal. Online CE as well as on-site CE is accepted by every US state. Satisfying these educational requirements slowly throughout the period can eliminate coursework overload or the frenzy of last-minute studying and attending seminars that were unfortunately common before online CEUs became readily available. The freedom to choose classes which match the schedule of the professional, as well as enrich the practice, increase their body of knowledge and keep them abreast of changes in the laws for professional licensed social workers are just a few of the advantages to online CEUs.

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No Essay College Scholarships: Is That Available?

No essay college scholarships? Are those even possible? Well, it depends on where you look, and if you look on the Internet, you’ll find that they are possible!
The need for college education is growing, and with it, the tuition fees and other expenses a student will incur. In fact, College Board-the SAT watchdog-released stats on the 2009-2010 private and public education costs. During that school year, annual tuition costs for private schools amounted to $26,273, while public education costs at the high school levels were at $7,020 a year per student.
For the millions of American students who wish to go to college, there’s good news: There is approximately $168 billion in student financial aid available to prospective college applicants. Now most of these require students to submit essays in order to qualify, but there are some scholarships that don’t give this requirement.
The monthly College Prowler “$2,000 No Essay” college scholarships went live in 2002. It is a website for students who write college reviews from their perspective. College Prowler currently offers a monthly $2,000 scholarship for students, a scholarship that requires simply filling out a form, but no essay is needed. On the College Prowler website, an applicant may click on “$2000 Scholarship” link and be taken to an online form.
College Prowler only permits applicants to enter once a month. At the end of each month, a winner is randomly selected, and is informed on the 15th of the next month if he or she has won the scholarship. High school, college and graduate students are eligible to apply for the no-essay college scholarship including international students who have approved visas. Students must be at least 13 years old in order to apply.
The Discover Scholarship Program’s no essay college scholarships is from the same operators of the Discover Card. Each year, the Discover Financial Services offers up to $250,000 in scholarships annually to high school juniors from all over the United States for students who have completed specific application requirements. The financial aid awarded to these students can be used to finance various types of post-secondary education programs.
Some of the requirements a student must present are a 2.75 cumulative grade point average, an excellent record in community service involvement and accomplishments, and most importantly, a section of how he or she hurdled a monumental challenge or setback in life. Students interested in applying for the Discover Financial Scholarship may contact Discover Financial Services at their Corporate Headquarters, or go to the website and click on the “Scholarships” link.
Another college scholarship that does not require an essay-only some creativity-is Stuck at Prom. This is a contest sponsored by Duck duct tape, and requires that only couples (preferably prom dates) apply. The only requirement is for the applying couple to create a complete prom ensemble made completely out of duct tape. The designs must be completely original. The couple must then photograph the prom outfits and submit them along with their application, which may be uploaded on the Duck brand website. Winners are determined by the most votes for a couple. Truly, this is one of the most entertaining no essay college scholarships you’ll ever see!

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