MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) has introduced a new audit trail feature that mandates accounting software used by certain companies or individuals to enable an audit trail facility.
As per the MCA’s requirement, the audit trail feature should create an edit log for any changes made on transactions and record the date of each change being made and cannot be disabled. This would enable businesses to track all financial activities while helping to maintain transparency and detecting fraud¹.The requirement was initially made applicable for the financial year commencing on or after the 1st day of April 2021 vide notification G.S.R. 206 (E) dated March 24, 2021. However, its applicability has been deferred two times and this requirement is finally applicable from April 1, 2023.
- The audit trail feature is designed to record an “edit log” or audit trail of each transaction entered in the accounting software which can be reviewed by auditors or regulators.
- This feature will make it easier to track changes and identify errors, potential fraud, or other discrepancies in accounting data.
- This feature must be available for all authorized users of the accounting software and cannot be disabled.
- The accounting software must ensure the integrity, generation, and retention of the audit trail for a minimum period of eight years.
- The implementation of the audit trail feature has been delayed until April 1, 2023, and all accounting software used by certain companies or individuals are expected to comply with this new rule.
These are some of the key features of the audit trail feature introduced by the MCA, which is aimed at promoting transparency and accuracy in financial reporting and auditing.
Pros of Audit Trials – Newly Introduced by MCA:
- Increases transparency: The use of audit trails can help increase transparency, making it easier to track changes to financial data and identify potential fraud or errors.
- Supports compliance: The MCA may require certain companies to use audit trails in order to comply with regulations. Having this feature built-in to accounting software can make it easier for companies to meet these requirements.
- Can provide a better understanding of financial data: By tracking changes to financial data over time, it is easier to identify trends and patterns that may be important for business decisions
Cons of Audit Trials – Newly Introduced by MCA:
- Can be resource-intensive: Depending on the size of the organization and the amount of data being tracked, using audit trails may require additional resources (such as storage space and processing power).
- Can introduce delays: If auditors need to review audit trails as part of an investigation, this can introduce additional delays in the financial reporting process.
- User errors may still occur: Even with audit trails in place, it is still possible for human errors to occur (such as accidentally entering incorrect data). Audit trails can help identify these errors after the fact, but they do not prevent them from happening in the first place.
The audit trail requirement introduced by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is expected to be helpful for Chartered Accountants (CAs). The audit trail feature can provide a comprehensive record of transactions, which can make it easier for CAs to detect and prevent fraudulent activities and ensure accuracy in accounting records. Additionally, the implementation of an audit trail can help CAs in conducting audits more efficiently and effectively.
Implementation of an audit trail can be helpful in ensuring accuracy in accounting records and preventing fraudulent activities. However, the effectiveness of the audit trail feature will depend on how well it is implemented by companies and how rigorously it is monitored by auditors and regulators.