The great Indian philosopher Sri Aurobindo believed in the purposefulness of evolution-life has evolved from matter and then mind has from life. We have been evolving for ages by responding to our respective environments. Evolution always had a purpose to make us better. Our life has a purpose too. The whole human existence has a purpose. It is evident that the sense of responsibility has inspired and given us a purpose to act, grow and develop. That is to say, behind all development in the past, there has been a sense of responsibility.
This may have been the idea when Sri Aurobindo suggested us, the Chartered Accountants, our motto-ya esa suptesu jagarti, from arguably the most philosophical of the Upanishadas, Kathopanisada. This is part of Lord Yama’s response to what soul (atman) is. With this, the philosopher gave our profession a definitive purpose and an objective to exist. Sri Aurobindo had suggested Garuda for our logo and added a perspective to the purpose. We have to understand our professional existence in the light of our motto and logo.
Chartered Accountants need to continue being ever-awake and ever-creative, and we must feel competent like a soul. Like Garuda, we have to be patient but alert and focused. Then, along with this, the sense of responsibility that we have towards our present and future generations will complete us. In the interest of our nation in particular and overall humanity in general, our fraternity will have to feel competent in this sense.
Inclusive growth and financial inclusion that are part of the current Government’s prime agenda have been fundamentally ingrained in our professional fundamentals since inception. I believe, to appear beautiful, we will have to make our surrounding beautiful too. Adam Grant, an academic, too believes that in order to get to the top, we will have to bring along others too with us, i.e. to the top. I would like to assure our Government that we will take our society along in our journey of growth.
Let me share with you some of the significant developments that have taken place in the accountancy profession over the last one month:
Progressive and Growth Oriented Union Budget 2015-16
I am sure this progressive and growth-oriented Union Budget 2015-16 will pave the way for an emergence of economically vibrant India. The Hon’ble Union Finance Minister has purposely kept his second Union Budget away from the populist measures while keeping his targets realistic. With the commitment to tax reforms and fiscal consolidation, this Union Budget has set the stage for the implementation of Goods and Service Tax (GST) in the country. The Budget aims at achieving the fiscal prudence. We as Chartered Accountants, with multi-dimensional professional competence will continue to act as a catalyst for the economic development of our country. Thus, we can facilitate inclusive growth, good governance and reforms, and help the Government in achieving the broader objectives of the Union Budget.
Our Suggestions Incorporated in Finance Bill, 2015: As per our regular practice, we had submitted a Pre-Budget Memoranda to the Ministry of Finance to put forward our suggestions. These suggestions are largely based on our members’ concerns as well as that of our society. I am extremely happy to share with you that, like every year, all our significant suggestions were considered while some of them were incorporated in the Finance Bill, 2015. A brief report on those incorporated suggestions has been published in this Journal.
Live Webcast on Tax Proposals of Union Budget: The Committees of ICAI on Direct Taxes, Indirect Taxes and International Taxation organised a Live Webcast on Tax Proposals of Union Budget 2015-16 immediately after the Union Budget was presented. Several experts discussed the budget proposals at length. Also, the Continuing Professional Education Committee and the Committee on Financial Markets and Investors Protection of the Institute released their webcasts on the critical analysis of the Union Budget. All these webcasts were viewed by many members and well-received.
Futuristic Rail Budget 2015-16
One among us, Union Railway Minister CA Suresh Prabhu presented the Rail Budget with more emphasis on policy reforms. Being a chartered accountant, he has endeavoured to serve the larger social and economic needs of the country. The Hon’ble Union Railway Minister extended a passenger - and consumer-friendly budget with a promise to bring in faster trains and better skilled personnel.
Moving towards GST Implementation
We must agree that the Goods and Service Tax (GST) today is being viewed as one of the biggest tax reforms in India, which will integrate State economies and boost overall growth. As such, the implementation of GST is high on the new government’s agenda as announced in the Budget Speech. On our part, we the Indian accountancy professionals are convinced about the immense benefits of GST and committed to facilitate its smooth roll-out. We have already offered our support to the Government in clearing the path for its implementation in India. We propose to organise training and awareness programmes for Excise and Service Tax officials across the country in this regard.
New Important Bills
The Parliament has passed two important Bills, Coal Mines (Special Provisions) Bill, 2015 and Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015 which will usher in an era of transparent e-auction of different mineral blocks. This will result in competitive bids for allocation of minerals. This will boost the country’s output of these minerals.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister had promised in his Budget Speech to bring in a legislation to curb the black money. Accordingly, the Undisclosed Foreign Income and Assets (Imposition of Tax) Bill, 2015 has been tabled in the Lok Sabha. This Bill covers for the imposition of taxes on overseas assets and income, which have evaded the tax payment in India.
We welcome all the provisions which result in transparency and curbing of black money.
ICAI to Adopt Ind AS and Lead by Example
The Council of the Institute has decided in principle to adopt the Ind AS, Indian Accounting Standards converged with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) from the financial year 2016-17. Accordingly, the previous year 2015-16 will be recast next year and the opening balance sheet as at 1st April 2015 will be prepared.
This will enable the Institute to lead the implementation of these new Accounting Standards. Further, the practical issues in the implementation and the knowledge of the new Ind ASs will percolate down to the five Regional Councils and 147 Branches.
Putting Indian Chartered Accountants on Global Pedestal
The ICAI proactively promotes its qualification overseas and strives to strengthen its relationship with the international bodies and global standard-setters. Along with the ICAI immediate past-President CA. K Raghu, I visited New York to attend the IFAC Board meeting in the first week of March. The IFAC Board reviewed its strategy plan for 2016-18, discussed the role of each of the IFAC Committees and formed a new Public Interest Committee.
The Board approved the MoU with IFRS Foundation which focuses on the issues in implementation of IFRSs. We also attended the Edinburgh Group meeting which is a forum to address the SMP-related matters and make recommendations to the IFAC.
Bilateral meetings with the CEOs of CA Australia and New Zealand for renewal of the MoU post June 2015 when the existing arrangement expires and the larger area of cooperation were also discussed. Meeting to expand the current focus of MoU with the CPA Ireland was also held. The IFAC Chief Executive forum with participation from over 45 countries was attended by the ICAI Acting Secretary Shri V. Sagar and Additional Secretary Rakesh Sehgal. The interactions are likely to pave the way for an increased ICAI contribution to the global accounting profession.
Taking Chairmen of Regional Councils and Branches Along
Recently, I along with the Vice President had a meeting with all the Regional Council Chairmen, Office Heads, Secretaries of Committees, and Head of Sections of the Institute in New Delhi. With an objective to promote amicability and a sense of unity among all regions and the headquarters, the meeting was held to showcase the profession’s collective power. I utilised this opportunity to learn from the experiences and expectations shared by all the regions. I also used this opportunity to share the broader aspects of the ICAI Vision, Mission and Action Plan (2015-16) with all of them. This meeting will both inspire and enable all Regional Councils and the Institute to work in a uniform direction.
Profession to Support PSUs’ CSR Initiative
In a recent meeting with the Hon'ble Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy CA. Piyush Goyal, he repeated his commitment of PSUs towards their corporate social responsibility (CSR). He referred to those PSUs which are governed by the Ministries of Power, Coal and New & Renewable Energy. The Hon’ble Union Minister had earlier requested us to take up the verification and audit of the amount spent as part of our own CSR on pro bonobasis. Already, we have received acceptance from about 500 members in response to our appeal/notification. We are committed to provide all logistical support in this activity. I request all my professional colleagues to ensure that their firms are duly empanelled for this purpose.
Online Branch Building Inauguration- A Green Approach
I am very happy to inform that we have added a new green chapter to our Institute’s history. I along with the Vice-President of the Institute inaugurated the new ICAI Bhawan of the Saharanpur Branch of CIRC via electronic mode on 12th March 2015. This is the first such inauguration of any Branch Building of ICAI. We addressed the entire gathering at the ICAI Bhawan at Saharanpur using the Google Hangout programme. Central Council members from the Central Region CA. Shyam Lal Agarwal, CA. Anuj Goyal and CA. Mukesh Singh Kushwah were present at Saharanpur on this historic occasion. Such initiatives will go a long way in saving time as well as our natural resources.
Membership Restoration for Empowerment
ICAI Membership is a prerogative, as it serves as a privilege to the members to connect to their roots. Besides the designation CA, the Institute’s journal, newsletters, regular updates, professional publications, etc., this membership also provides the members an opportunity to participate in its training programmes, workshops, etc.
With a view to mitigate the hardships faced by the members whose names stand removed due to non-payment of membership fee, the ICAI Council by way of an initiative, General Amnesty Scheme, had given such members an opportunity to connect with retrospective effect. Now, the deadline of this Scheme has been extended to 30th April, 2015 by the ICAI Council in its meeting held on 17th-19th March 2015. I would request these members to avail themselves of this opportunity and connect to their alma mater.
Guidance Note on Audit of Banks Available
I am now happy to inform you that the 2015 Guidance Note on Audit of Banks that had been uploaded on the ICAI website after the ICAI Council’s approval, is now available in print too at the Regional Councils and Branches of the Institute. I would also like to share the information that we have constituted an online expert panel to respond to the technical queries of our members relating to bank branch audits, which will be open till 11th April, 2015. Guidance Note on Reporting on Frauds under Section 143(12) of the Companies Act, 2013 is also available on the ICAI website for the use of our members.
Draft New Scheme on Education and Training to be Strengthened
As I had informed earlier that we had exposed the New Proposed Scheme on Education and Training for public comments till February 2015. We have decided to extend this exposure till 31st March, 2015, since we have been receiving a good response. We are already in receipt of more than 400 comments. We will also hold outreach meetings in all regions and decentralised offices to get a wider response from our fraternity. I sincerely hope that this review exercise will help us in strengthening this Scheme and making this more contemporary and effective.
Campus Placement for Newly-Qualified CAs
We have been organising campus placement programme for the newly-qualified chartered accountants at 20 centres across the country during February-March 2015. The first phase of this programme was concluded successfully at 14 smaller centres with about 393 offers already made to those Chartered Accountants by prominent companies of India. We, however, expect more such offers from other companies too at these smaller centres. More than 5,500 candidates had registered for this programme. The second phase of this progamme will be organised at six bigger centres namely New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad, and this is also expected to be very successful for the newly-qualified Chartered Accountants
Growing Professional Presence
Indian chartered accountants known for their professional competence and ethical conduct have raised the bar of accountancy profession with their dignified presence across the globe. With 5 Regional Councils, 147 Branches and 27 Foreign Chapters, we are constantly increasing our sectoral and geographical ambits globally. At the home front too, it is heartening to acknowledge that the membership strength is 2,33,544 and active student strength is 8,54,362. A total of 60,753 CA firms are registered with the Institute (out of which 18,651 are partnership and 42,102 are proprietary firms, as on 28th February 2015.
If we want to know our present and want to make it better, we will have to know our past. History that way is very important as it always gives us a perspective to act in the present. Alvin Toffler warns: If we do not learn from history, we shall be compelled to relive it. True, but if we do not change the future, we shall be compelled to endure it, and that could be worse. Therefore, it is in the interest of both our own future as well as present that we start acting today. Life has to be lived forward. Interest in the future could be justified by the fact that we finally have to live in the future.
While most of you would be giving final touches to your plans and strategy for performing the important assignment of bank branch audit, I am sure all of you must be performing this nationally important job diligently. I give you my wishes for a timely and an effective audit.
I would like to extend my heartiest wishes in advance on Ram Navami, Mahavir Jayanti and Easter that will be celebrated on 28th March, 2nd April and 5th April respectively. May these festivals add moments of peace, love and joy to our lives!