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ICAI - A Report on Interactive Workshop for Central Statutory Auditors
March, 13th 2009

The Professional Development Committee of the Institute of chartered accountants of India held a National Workshop for statutory central auditors of banks, at the financial capital, Mumbai, today, on 9th March 2009. The workshop was inaugurated by CA Uttam Prakash Agarwal, President ICAI. CA Anuj Goyal, Chairman Professional Development Committee advised that such workshops will be held across the country by ICAI for the benefit of the members/auditors of banks and their branches. Bank audits being round the corner, the workshop was organized to highlight the latest developments in the area to equip the members to carry out the bank audit effectively. ICAI and their regional councils and branches across the country have been organizing such workshops annually around this time of the year.

CA Uttam Prakash Agarwal. President, ICAI, stressed upon the need for maintaining independence of auditors and cautioned that granting managerial autonomy to banks in the appointment of auditors would erode the independence of auditors. He mentioned that banks being depositories and part of the payment system, they are of critical importance to the economy. He pointed out that for more than two decades, RBI has been doing the allocation of bank audits. This procedure has been working quite satisfactorily but granting managerial autonomy to banks has a direct impact on the independence of auditors. He urged that the current system of centralized appointment of auditors of public sector banks by RBI, carried out on behalf of the Govt. which is the major shareholder in the public sector banks is time tested and should be continued. He said the Govt. and the regulator should take notice of this and not experiment with the mechanism in the name of liberalization. He also informed the members that ICAI is in talks with the regulators and the Ministry of Finance, Govt of India on the issue of managerial autonomy to the public sector banks in the appointment of auditors.

CA Uttam Prakash Agarwal, President ICAI, while inaugurating the workshop stressed that the role of auditors is to express an opinion on the financial statements made available to them by the managements, as to their being true and fair and not to certify them to be true and correct. In this context he drew attention of the members present to the comprehensive set of auditing standards issued by the Institute. He clarified that as per SA 500 Audit Evidence, the auditors obtain persuasive evidence and not conclusive evidence. Such an inherent limitation arises on account of inherent limitation of the internal control system as outlined in SA 315. Identifying and assessing the risk of material misstatements through understanding the entity and its environment, and the reliance on test check system because of time and cost constraints. As per SA 580 Representation by management auditors have to rely upon representation by the management because sometimes it is not possible for an auditor to obtain direct audit evidence. As per SA 315, External confirmation the auditors should also attempt to obtain confirmation from third parties and obtain external audit evidence. Moreover, in practical situations, third parties do not respond to such requests. In view of the above, it needs no reiteration that the auditors only provide reasonable assurance and can never provide absolute assurance. He made this observation in the current context of the Satyam episode where the role of auditors have come into question.

He also informed that the Council at its meeting held on 7-8th March 2009, had also approved two more Standards on Auditing under the Clarity Project of International Auditing & Assurance (Revised) Standards Board of IFAC. SA 500 Audit Evidence provides more guidance in respect of principles and procedure in obtaining sufficient and appropriate audit evidence. On the other hand, SA 720 Auditors Responsibilities in relation to other information contained in Audited Financial Statements deals with auditors responsibilities is to read other financial and non-financial information and ensure that it is consistent with the information contained in financial statements. This standard would go a long way in building confidence of society in the reports issued by the auditors.

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