“In the new year, you carry all the experiences of the past years, and that is the greatest power of every new year!" rightly goes the saying. I firmly believe that “what the new year brings to you will depend a great deal on what you bring to the new year. The same goes for our profession also. To achieve great things in our profession, we not only need to have big dreams but also have deep beliefs in our dreams. Opportunities are knocking at our doors, so let’s open our doors to them this new year. On this positive note, I wish all of you a professionally fulfilling and rewarding New Year 2015. Let me repeat the wise words of Benjamin Franklin, “Be at war with your vices; at peace with your neighbours, and let every new year find you a better man.”
My vision has been to establish the footprints and mark of excellence of the Indian CAs across the globe through a strong network of our foreign chapters, which presently have more than 12,000 of ICAI overseas members in their fold. Our Foreign Chapters have been successful in creating a common forum where members can meet, exchange views and interact professionally with the other members and address their professional issues. Taking this mission forward, I recently inaugurated our 24th Overseas Chapter in Vancouver in British Columbia in Canada, which has a sizeable number of Indian accounting professionals working for the growth of the region.
One Among our Fraternity Becomes Railway Minister
Our profession is dedicated to the service of the society and the nation. Many of our professionals have taken this spirit of social service to new heights and have excelled in public life. CA. Suresh Prabhu, who recently joined the Union Cabinet as the Railway Minister is an excellent example of this phenomenon which makes our profession proud. On behalf of the CA fraternity, I heartily congratulate CA. Suresh Prabhu for being chosen for a highly responsible position. He has been actively associated with the Institute in all these years and I look forward to his continued guidance and support to the accountancy profession in India. I wish him all the best and I am sure that the Indian Railways will go a long way under his stewardship.
Meanwhile, I also met CA. Suresh Prabhu and discussed our association with Indian Railways, particularly in unleashing accounting reforms in this important government entity. I am happy to inform you that an MoU pertaining to switching over to Accrual Accounting in Indian Railways is in advanced stage of consideration, and is likely to be signed soon.
The Future Belongs to Us-Let’s Think Big
The reviving economy, fast-paced globalisation and expansion of various sectors are offering an ocean of professional opportunities for the CAs. With the unleashing of accounting reforms in India consequent to the implementation of IFRS Convergence and new avenues emerging in the wake of the Companies Act, 2013, XBRL, Integrated Reporting, IT and Data Analytics, etc., our profession is upbeat, and the demand for Chartered Accountants is at an all-time high. Accountancy is today one of the most significant segments of the expanding economy and the future of the accountancy profession is going to be very promising.
With this background, it’s time for the CA fraternity to have a boom of its own, and this can happen if the members change their mindset and start looking beyond the traditional number crunching and be at ease with new opportunities that are opening up in the economy. So let’s think big and consolidate our skills, energies and strengths to become bigger and better. The future belongs to us, so let’s continue our march towards a glorious and prosperous tomorrow, and prove our worth as an indispensable ‘complete business solution provider’ of the modern day business.
Facilitating Efficacy of the Companies Act, 2013
(a) Our Suggestions Accepted in Companies Amendment Bill 2014: I am happy to inform you that the Government has considered our suggestions in the Companies Amendment Bill, 2014 and has addressed many issues raised by us concerning our profession. Here, I particularly welcome the amendment regarding Fraud Reporting under Section 143 (12) of Companies Act, 2013. We had represented to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs that Fraud Reporting be restricted to material frauds and that a threshold limit should be the criteria for reporting fraud. In this regard, we would soon come out with the Guidance Note on Fraud Reporting for our members.
(b) Revised Format of Auditor’s Report Finalised: The Council has recently revised the format of Auditor’s Report as well as the Engagement Letter for Statutory Audit of the financial statements under the Companies Act, 2013 and the same has been hosted on our website. Moreover, our Auditing and Assurance Standards Board has further set up a Study Group to review the impact of the provisions of the Companies Act, 2013, particularly those relating to the duties and responsibilities of the auditors on the existing suite of Standards on Auditing. I request you to help us in this process by submitting your suggestions in this regard.
Our 24th Overseas Chapter Opened in Vancouver, Canada
My vision has been to establish the footprints and mark of excellence of the Indian CAs across the globe through a strong network of our foreign chapters, which presently have more than 12,000 of ICAI overseas members in their fold. Our Foreign Chapters have been successful in creating a common forum where members can meet, exchange views and interact professionally with the other members and address their professional issues. Taking this mission forward, I recently inaugurated our 24th Overseas Chapter in Vancouver in British Columbia in Canada, which has a sizeable number of Indian accounting professionals working for the growth of the region. Indian Consul and Head of Chancery, Vancouver, Mr. R. Chandarmouli, and Mr. Sav Dhaliwal, Councillor, City of Burnaby, were present on this occasion besides other significant stakeholders.
A combined Canadian accounting profession, built on the strengths of the three legacy designations (Chartered Accountant, Certified Management Accountant and Certified General Accountant), is more than 1,90,000 members strong. I am sure this chapter will prove to be immensely useful for Indian CAs in the region and would network with the members of Accounting Institutes across Canada. I also visited our Toronto chapter to attend their 8th Annual Event and encouraged our members in the region to uphold the mission of Indian and Canadian accounting profession.
Helping Govt in Pre-Budget Exercise
In line with our traditional role of helping the Government in the Budget making exercise, we have submitted a well-thought-out Pre-Budget Memorandum to the Ministry of Finance for Union Budget 2015-16. The Memorandum has been prepared after incorporating suggestions from membership and stakeholders at large in the interest of the nation. The suggestions given by us do not only relate to fiscal laws and taxation but also pertain to overall economic development. The full text of the memorandum has been hosted on our website. I am sure our memorandum would prove to be highly useful to the Government.
MoU with EPFO for Accrual Accounting
We have been actively working to unleash accounting reforms in various organisations across the country. In this regard, I am happy to inform you that the ICAI Accounting Research Foundation (ICAI ARF) has signed an MoU with the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) to undertake a Pilot Study Project to support EPFO in migrating to Accrual Based Accounting System. This project represents the first phase of the initiative wherein the ICAI ARF will perform the study of EPFO's existing accounting system with an intent to design the strategy for a smooth migration and transition to accrual system of accounting. We will submit a "Report on the Migration Strategy at EPFO" which will form the basis of the next phase of the project. The project offers a unique opportunity to study the complex accounting aspects of the sovereign fund from the professional perspective.
Meeting with SEBI Chairman
Proactively pursuing our role in the position of ‘Leadership and Influence’, we are closely engaged with various regulators. As part of this vision, we have a tradition of strong association with SEBI and are involved with its various initiatives. To strengthen this mutually beneficial professional relationship further, I recently met the SEBI Chairman, Shri U. K. Sinha, and discussed matters of mutual and professional interest. Among other issues, we discussed a larger role for ICAI in monitoring market intermediaries and committed our proactive support in the Qualified Auditors Report Committee of SEBI. I congratulate him for being recently conferred with the prestigious ‘Business Reformer of the Year 2013-14’ award.
Promoting CAs in Industry-Meeting with Mukesh Ambani
Meanwhile, with a view to spread the ICAI Vision and Mission and promote ‘brand Indian CA’ across industry, I recently met the Chairman-cum- Managing Director of the largest Indian business house of Reliance Industries Limited, Mr. Mukesh Ambani. We discussed various developments taking place in Indian economy including IFRS implementation, the new Companies Act, 2013, GST, and our new CA Curriculum etc. The meeting was extremely useful and helped us to understand the changing industry expectations from our profession.
Taking CA Education to a Higher Level: New Syllabus Likely from 2016
Our students and CA education system has been one of my topmost priorities as I believe in sustained and future-oriented growth of our profession. With a vision that accountancy profession and accountancy education should constantly go hand in hand with global academic, technological and economic advancements, our new scheme for CA Education and Training is now ready for final consideration of the Council and we hope that the new CA Course may be announced from the year 2016. The whole syllabus for CA proficiency test to CA final has been minutely scrutinised and changes have been proposed to make the course more practical in approach to meet the requirements of today’s competitive market.
I express my sincere appreciation to our Committee on Review of Education and Training (CRET), Past Presidents, Members of Central Council, Regional Councils and Branch Managing Committees, our members, students and other users of professional services for giving valuable inputs and sending responses on various issues through the online questionnaires. I am sure that this future-oriented drive of the ICAI will go a long way in benchmarking our CA education with the best in the world and will be more industry friendly and practical.
Young Members Practitioners Kit Launched
Post-liberalisation of our economy, the demand from Industry for young Chartered Accountants has increased manifold in various sectors of the economy. There are endless opportunities for practicing young CAs. To help our young members tap these enormous opportunities, I recently launched a Young Members Practitioners Kitand a web portal dedicated to our young members. The Kit provides young CAs an insight into the various aspects of practice, including the constitution of the practice entity, areas of specialisation, office infrastructure, branding, staffing and HR management, modern audit tools and techniques, audit programme, etc. The information contained in this manual is highly informative and will guide our young members to be effective and successful practitioners.
Let’s Make CABF Part of our Social Responsibility
Our Chartered Accountants Benevolent Fund (CABF) is a benevolent initiative by CAs for the CAs. As an effective mode of fulfilling our social responsibility towards our profession, the CABF has been our effective answer to the calls of our members in distress. I am happy to acknowledge and thankful for your tremendous response to our appeals to strengthen the corpus of this fund.
Here, I wish to convey my special thanks to one of our prominent professionals, CA. T. V. Mohandas Pai from Bangalore, for setting an excellent and inspiring example recently by committing a sum of R1 crore for the CA Benevolent Fund. I personally collected a cheque of 50 lakh out of his commitment and took note of his various valuable suggestions for the cause of CAs in distress. I am sure that this generous gesture will inspire others among us to follow suit. Earlier during this year, we received an encouraging contribution of 56,08,218 between 2nd March to 20th August from our members across the country. Let’s keep up this benevolent trend and make this an integral part of our social responsibility. Remember, a candle loses nothing by lighting another one.
Countdown to Three Mega Events of ICAI Begins
I am happy to inform you that the stage is set and the countdown has begun to the three mega ICAI events in January and early February, 2015.
(1) International Conference in Bengaluru: Our 3-day mega International Conference is being held at the historic Bangalore Palace in Bengaluru from 29th to 31st January, 2015 on the theme ‘Accountancy Profession: Building Global Competitiveness; Accelerating Growth,’ which will bring together 3,000 delegates from across the world. We are trying to have the honourable Prime Minister and other high profile dignitaries to grace this occasion and encourage the Indian CA fraternity. This event will have multiple technical sessions and panel discussions and will also witness parallel sessions on women and young members. A health session by Dr. Devi Prasad Shetty, an eminent cardiologist from Bangalore, and a spiritual session by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Founder of the Art of Living Foundation, are the other highlights of the conference. We are also having special pavilions to showcase our International, IT and SMP initiatives besides a special Project Gallery to showcase innovative projects and activities of our branches and overseas chapters. The Conference offers 14 hours CPE credit and will have a galaxy of international speakers.
(2) ICAI Corporate Forum 2014: In line with our annual tradition, another high-profile event- ICAI Corporate Forum 2014, will be organised from 31st January to 1st February, 2015 in Mumbai. This mega event will comprise three concurrent events viz., Corporate Conclave, Financial Services Expo and ICAI Awards, 2014.
(3) ICAI Awards for Excellence in Financial Reporting: In the backdrop of our commitment to encourage, promote and recognise excellence in preparation and presentation of financial information in India, another mega event-‘ICAI Awards for Excellence in Financial Reporting’ has been lined up in Chennai in early February 2015. These prestigious awards for 2013-14 will be given in 13 categories.
Since, all these events will tremendously enhance our global professional outlook, I request all of you to take out time from your schedule to actively participate in these mega programmes.
Friends, January is the month when winter is at its peak and a large part of North India wakes up to foggy mornings and the fragrance of wood smoke from bonfires. Christmas has just marked the beginning of our celebrations. Through the new year celebrations, we will eventually be entering into the mood of festivals-Lohri in Punjab, Makar Sankranthi in North, East, West and Central India, and Pongal in the South, Kite Festival in Gujarat, Camel Festival in Rajasthan and of course, the National Festival, the Republic Day on 26th January. These festivals give us reason to smile and come and stand together and to share our happiness and joy. I extend my very warm greetings and good wishes to you and to your near and dear ones for these festivals, particularly our Republic Day.