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Rs 97 crore for institute to teach soft skills
October, 08th 2012

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has entered into an agreement with a private realtor M/s Luxora Infrastructure, coming up with a township at Pipla on the outskirts of the city.

The regulator of accounting professionals in the country has registered an agreement to pay Rs 97 crore for buying 9.10 acres of land. It has shelled out around Rs 9 crore as an initial amount. The amount includes the cost of construction. The deal has raised many an eyebrow. Chartered accountants are talking in hushed tones. They are questioning the need for such an expenditure.

ICAI is a body formed under an act of the Parliament. Its funds are mainly derived from fees paid by students and chartered accountants. A student has to shell out Rs 40,000 for the five-year course. Any expenditure is approved by the central council which also has IAS officers.

Luxora Infrastructure which has Sanjay Kothari, a city-based chartered accountant as its CEO, had put the work on the Pipla township on hold due to recession. The foreign investors with which it had tied up had also held up funds. It is only six months ago that the project was revived. ICAI is among the first buyers. Kothari refused to comment.

ICAI plans to set up a Centre of Excellence at this site. Such centres are also coming up in other cities. Talking to TOI, ICAI president Jaideep Shah explained his position but his version seems to have several loose ends. He claimed ignorance about certain fundamental aspects such as the annual budget of ICAI. Shah, the second person from the city to become ICAI chief, said the centre of excellence will help in creating a brand image and also boost learning.

Strangely, ICAI will be mainly using the Rs 97-crore building to conduct a month-long course for development of 'professional and communication skills.' This is nothing but training in soft skills for a fee of Rs 40,000. Shah also admitted that the centres do not have full-time faculty.

"The ICAI already has a similar 15-day course which is mandatorily for fresh pass outs for a fee of around Rs 7,000. This makes the 4-week course redundant," say other chartered accountants.

Shah said there will be other post-qualification certificate courses for chartered accountants offered at the centre. Again, these courses are optional. So far, they are being conveniently held at ICAI's own premises or hotels, added others in the profession.

On the necessity of such centres, Shah said 20 more should be built. The one at Hyderabad is already fully booked, he said, but again refused to specifically mention the number of courses undertaken on an annual basis.

The other cities where ICAI has brought land for such centres are Kolkata (2 acres), Chennai (10 acres) Hyderabad (2.77 acres), Jaipur (25 acres) and Bangalore (10 acres). Even though the land for the Kolkata and Chennai centres was also purchased during Shah's tenure, he was clueless about the money spent.

"I am not involved in the day-to-day affairs of the organization. The details of the Nagpur land deal had to be obtained from the concerned departments," said Shah.

However, he was a part of the inspection team which visited the Pipla site.

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