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The 2013 ARA programme presents, for the first time, Sustainability Reporting Awards (SRA) for reports selected for their environmental and social issue achievements.
As for the new awards, the World Bank’s private sector arm IFC and Britain-based global body Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) will judge the awards.
The contest’s launch also witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the ARA’s Organising Board, IFC and ACCA for a new partnership for an annual business programme.
The programme aims to encourage listed companies to further improve their professionalism, norms and transparency in making their annual reports. The awards are co-organised by the Ho Chi Minh Stock Exchange (HOSE) and Vietnam Investment Review’s sister publication Dau tu Chung khoan, and exclusively sponsored by the high-profile fund management Dragon Capital Group.
The Sustainability Reporting Awards come into being this year to encourage the companies to publicise information on issues related to the environment and society, along with raising awareness of sustainable development associated with environmental social responsibility.
HOSE chief executive Phan Thi Tuong Tam, head of the Organising Board and chief of the Board of Judges, said: "With the SRA coming into being, the sixth ARA moves to a new development stage. It points out a direction where companies must publicise information and build the business environment based on sustainable development through corporate social responsibility criteria.
“This also serves as a platform for listed companies as Vietnam will soon introduce regulations on sustainable development,” she said.
Dominic Scriven, CEO of Dragon Capital - the exclusive sponsor for the competition over the past six years, said: “Responsible investment is the backbone of Dragon Capital's investment philosophy. International institutional and individual investors are showing increasingly interest in understanding the approach and commitment of companies in managing sustainability aspects of their operations, particularly providing stakeholders with real insight into how environmental, social and corporate governance practices being integrated into their core business process and strategy.
“Thus, sustainability reporting is needed to further strengthen the company’s competitiveness to attract stable and long-term capital flows,” he said.
Simon Andrews, IFC regional manager for Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, said: “IFC is pleased to contribute our expertise to this important Annual Report Awards initiative.
We believe that good reporting should be linked to corporate strategy. Deciding how to report and what to report helps focus a company’s efforts and resources on tackling the most important sustainability issues affecting its business. It also demonstrates good management and performance and attracts investors who are increasingly concerned about these issues before investing.”
Reza Ali, ACCA’s head of emerging markets in Asia, said: “ACCA is delighted to be part of the inaugural Vietnam Sustainability Reporting Awards initiative. We believe that organisations have a responsibility to account for their impacts on society and the environment. ACCA also believes that accountants have an important role to play in assisting companies to adopt green economic practices.”
The criteria for sustainability reporting include completeness, credibility and communication, with key considerations being integrated business conduct, reaching relevant user groups, legal risks, robust information and monitoring systems, as well as readiness to go beyond combining reports.
VIR Editor-in-chief Nguyen Anh Tuan - also head of the Organising Board, said norms, transparency, professionalism and creativeness continued to be the major criteria for this year’s ARA competition. Winning the awards depends on the way the listed companies publish their information rather than on their business performance.
He underlined that the listed companies have to observe standards stipulated by Ministry of Finance circular 52/2012/TT-BTC replacing the ministry’s 09/2010/TT-BTC as guidelines on publishing information in the stock market.
The jury would pay close attention to the assessments of performance and financial conditions, as well as the capability to analyse, predict risks and share information in corporate management, Tuan said. He added IFC’s involvement in the competition aimed to assess corporate governance work in annual reports.
The contest is also for annual reports from enterprises listed on the HOSE and Hanoi Stock Exchange (HNX). More than 700 annual reports from firms listed on both exchanges are expected to undergo selection this year.
Launched in 2008, ARA has increasingly attracted blue chip investors and listed companies.
Between 2008 and 2012, the organisers honoured 129 reports out of the 1,702 entries, including 299 qualified for the final rounds. The rate of winning reports out of the finalists increased steadily from 13 per cent in 2010 to 17.8 per cent in 2012.