India Preparing for Digital Sustainability Reporting

The vanguard of digital reporting, India, is preparing to enable the filing of the new Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) in XBRL format. The two major stock exchanges in India announced the availability of online XBRL submission portals for listed companies. If your business is active in India, then filing BRSR could be mandatory in the financial year 2022-2023.

This month, two of the principal stock exchanges of India have issued circulars announcing online XBRL submission portals for listed companies. Both the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) and the BSE (formerly known as Bombay Stock Exchange) have reported on the availability of this online XBRL for Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) reporting.

The BRSR filing is developed by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and is the “more detailed and comprehensive” replacement for the current Business Responsibility Report (BRR). As of now, this BRSR filing is -just like the ongoing EFRAG drafts– voluntary. Whereas the latter is still in the draft phase and awaits further developments to become part of the reporting environment, the BRSR is voluntary in the 2021-2022 financial year. During this period, Indian businesses are allowed to “establish and improve their reporting processes”. Yet, in the second phase of the BRSR development (the fiscal year 2022-2023), the BRSR shall be mandatory for the top 1,000 companies in India. Currently, both the XBRL and PDF format are required for the BRSR filing.

eXtensible Business Report Language (XBRL) is a standard global framework which enables the effective exchange of data using the (online) XBRL reporting format. With various countries hopping on the global trend of XBRL adaptation, implementing an XBRL software solution results in various benefits and is deemed as a requirement to maintain efficiency and stay competitive in the current marketplace.

With the flexibility and extensibility of XBRL, enterprises can utilize and extend taxonomy to fit their specific needs. The usage of XBRL creates emphasise on these standardized “tags”, resulting in enhanced and automatic validation, comparison, and analysis of data. While this reduces labour due to efficient and effective “tagging”, using the overarching and commonly-known XBRL taxonomy for filing data creates immediate comparable data and financial transparency for investors.

Moreover, to assist these listed entities in understanding the “updated disclosure requirements and concepts associated with the new format of BRSR”, the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) has in cooperation with the Stakeholder Empowerment Services (SES) released 38 sector-specific guides in understanding the BRSR format. These guides provide in-depth information regarding the parameters in the format and give guidance on how to report and measure these parameters.