The past few days witnessed unprecedented optimism as the election results unfolded and the Congress emerged victorious with the highest number of seats won by any single party in the last twenty five years. The people have delivered their verdict. They have voted for a coherent and stable government.
All the potential king makers have been cut to size. This time round the Government formed at the Centre would be able to take bold decisions without fear of any armtwisting tactics by any of its constituents. No Government in recent memory has had it so good. Our prime minister Dr. Manmohan Singh is the only PM since Jawaharlal Nehru in 1961, who has been voted back to power after completing a full five-year term.
The stock market sky-rocketed by a historic 2,111 points, a feat never witnessed before in any part of the world. The rupee is gaining strength against the dollar and there is an allround optimism in the air. It is sincerely hoped that this optimism puts India back onto a sustained growth trajectory.
We can definitely look forward to the UPA getting down to finish its unfinished agenda and take forward its bold proposals, which had hit the road block earlier by some of its constituents in the last Government. We can also expect the implementation of the second generation of economic reforms which would give a great impetus to the economy.
We as professionals will also have to gear up and rise to the occasion. There would be more opportunities and fresh challenges. As partners in nation building, we can ensure to take India to greater heights.
I wish to thank all of you to acceding to my request and voting in large numbers thereby voting to power a stable government, which can take decisions and implement plans without worrying about the support its proposals would receive on the floor of the Parliament.
Spreading wings abroad
In the past sixty years, our Institute has carved a niche for itself abroad and is widely recognised as one of the premier accounting bodies in the whole world. The services of the Indian Chartered Accountants are sought for by numerous clients across the globe. The recent MRA's signed with ICAEW and CPA Australia would also ensure more opportunities for our members in the global arena.
Sensing growing opportunities in various African countries, the ICAI co-organised Africa Day along with Indo-Africa Chamber of Commerce and Industries on May 18 and 19, 2009. During the event, ICAI showcased its intent to collaborate with African countries to develop the accountancy profession and infrastructure and provide technical assistance in tandem with the economic development taking place in their countries. ICAI signed a historic MoU with the Republic of Djibouti wherein ICAI would provide full support to the University of Djibouti in establishing learning institute in that country on similar lines of the work done by ICAI in Nepal.
I had the opportunity to be a member of a high-profile delegation to Spain and Poland led by the Hon'ble President of India, Her Excellency Smt. Pratibha Devi Singh Patil on April 21st -24th , 2009. Both these countries hold great opportunity for development of closer trade and economic ties with India. This gave me an opportunity to present our Institute's activities to the business community of these two countries. The interactions in both countries proved very useful with both sides agreeing to support and strengthen economic partnerships with India.
In the next decade, more and more attempts will be made to make our presence felt across our borders. Our aim is to make our members the most sought-after professionals in the world. We have finalised the fee structure for members of ICAEW and CPA Australia to become members of the ICAI and vice-versa and am pleased to inform you that so far about 70 and 40 members have already applied for membership of ICAEW and CPA Australia respectively.
Diamond Jubilee Year Celebrations
To commemorate this landmark year, it has been decided to organise various events on various social, contemporary and emerging areas. In the last sixty years, the Institute has constantly been trying to hold more and more activities and provide better facilities and services to its members and students. However, on this auspicious occasion, we thought that it was time we did something for the society at large. Therefore, we have dedicated every month starting from July to some social cause.
The month of July is dedicated to the theme of Go Green wherein various activities will be undertaken throughout the country by Head Office, Regional Offices and Branches to create awareness and activation drives such as plantation of saplings, Go Green Run at Agra and other cities, collaborating with local municipalities and traffic police for a pollution free environment, advocating use of solar power or CFL bulbs and discouraging use of plastic bags amongst other initiatives.
Similarly, the month of August is dedicated to educational initiatives and IT training wherein school kits and educational aids will be distributed and IT training will be imparted to the economically poor section of the society. In the month of September, career counseling programs will be held to guide our students to choose a career path most suitable to his/her abilities and aptitude.
In the month of October, focus will be on the empowerment of people focusing on social empowerment, economic empowerment and empowering women. November will be dedicated to agriculture. Even though our country is an agro-based economy, our farmers are uneducated and are unaware of how to raise loans, insure their crops, increase productivity or market their produce. By collaborating with banks, insurance companies and agriculture-based institutions a mass awareness drive will be undertaken throughout the country in this regard. This will also enable our members to offer yeomen services to a sector that has generally remained neglected.
The month of December is dedicated to programmes on public awareness and January is dedicated to various sports and youth related activities.
All these specialised activities throughout the country will provide you with abundant opportunities to involve yourself and play a proactive role in this Diamond Jubilee Year by contributing towards nation-building and betterment of society. So I hope to see all of you in large numbers to support the Institute in carrying out its social objectives in the Diamond Jubilee Year.
Diamond Jubilee Conference
A Diamond Jubilee International Conference on the theme, Winds of Challenges Global Strategies for Accounting Profession is being organised from 3rd to 5th July, 2009, at Hotel Jaypee Palace in Agra.
Agra is a historical city and a feather in the cap of Incredible India, and a befitting place to hold an international conference. The city also possesses the most precious jewel of the country's crown, the Taj Mahal.
This forum would provide an ideal opportunity for members to interact with professionals from all parts of the world and provide exposure to professional opportunities from across our borders. As the world veritably transits into a 'Global Village' due to the onset of Internet and global networking, dissolving business frontiers and shrinking distances, a new world is fast emerging. In this scenario, Accountants must acquire requisite knowledge and skills on one hand, and organisational and operational strength on the other, in order to be able to compete globally.
This Conference will dwell on the topical issues related to Governance, Financial Engineering, Regulatory Compliance, Value Creation, Corporate Social Responsibility and the like. The International Conference would be congregation of renowned experts in the area of accounting, auditing and management from IFAC, IASB and other international bodies including leaders from Trade and Industry in India.
As part of our Green initiative, Planet Alert has been taken up by the Institute in the Diamond Jubilee Year and I am pleased to inform you that we have tied up with Big FM for an 18-hour Radio-thon on June 5, 2009, which happens to be the World Environment Day. There will be a broadcast across 45 cities in India creating awareness on how we can all contribute to combat climate change. A number of celebrities will air their concern about global warming followed by interviews, skits, activation drives and awareness messages. The Institute has taken up the issue of spreading awareness on climate change which is of global concern and will kick-start the campaign with this Radio-thon.
CPE Study Circles for Members in Industry
During the past sixty years our profession has been getting slowly but surely aligned towards industry. An increasing number of our members are joining the industry thereby outweighing the number of members in practice. This clearly proves that the industry is welcoming our profession with open arms thereby providing more employment opportunities to our members.
I have always considered that our members in industry are the brand ambassadors of our profession as they play an important role in the economic development of the country. The contribution of our members in industry to enable ICAI achieve the recognition as one of the most dynamic professional accounting bodies in the world has also been immense.
Like our members in practice, it is time that our members in industry also come forward and form CPE Study Circles for Members in Industry. This would further enhance their brand image and also provide a forum for interaction to update their knowledge on a continuous basis. The Committee for Members in Industry has been geared up to extend all possible support and guidance to these CPE Study Circles.
The globalisation and the emerging scenario of the corporate world require specialised professionals who can provide service with excellence, professionalism and objectivity to deal with various aspects of the corporate affairs. Corporates follow diverse principles, practices and procedures and therefore, there is a need to integrate, harmonise and standardise such principles, practices and procedures so as to promote uniformity and consistency. Technicalities of corporate laws, accounting and auditing have undergone and are undergoing important changes. Members and other stakeholders need guidance on various areas of corporate laws and practice. Since the members are expected to keep pace with recent developments, the Institute decided in principle to issue the Corporate Affairs Standards (CAS) to guide the members and other stakeholders.
The CAS will set out concepts, principles, practices and procedures which are generally accepted internationally and which the Institute considers desirable in the light of prevailing legal framework, the applicable law, judicial pronouncement and the best global practices which are in conformity with the law of the land.
The main purpose of formulating CAS is not to interpret the Law but to set out the concepts, principles, practices and procedures that underlie the corporate law compliances, corporate governance and management of corporates. The CAS are not mandatory in nature but would serve as guiding principles for members and other stakeholders.
Widening the scope for SMPs
Nearly 85 per cent of the professional practitioners in the South Asian region constitute of SMPs and one has to pro-actively work to create awareness amongst SMPs towards capacity building, providing better infrastructure and opportunities and giving due recognition to them as catalysts for achieving sustainability in all aspects of economy. As the first Chairman of the SMP Committee of SAFA, I have prepared an Action Plan for the issues germane to SMPs & SMEs of the South Asian region. The experience I gained as Technical Advisor to the SMP Committee of IFAC has been immensely beneficial and instrumental in preparing this Action Plan, which would ensure that there is an adequate awareness amongst member bodies to help SMPs at respective Institute level in various areas of capacity building like venture capital, tie-up with banks for availability of funds at cheaper rates and facilitate the pooling of infrastructure facilities so that members can actually come together under one roof.
Campus for SMEs and SMPs
At a time when most Institutions are finding it difficult to get a good response for campus placement, we are adding a new dimension to our already successful placement programme. We are organising a new Campus Placement Programme for newly qualified chartered accountants exclusively structured for meeting the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and small and medium-sized CA firms (SMPs). This clearly indicates the growing demand for our profession at all levels despite the present economic slowdown. It is indeed heartening and encouraging to see that our profession is making rapid progress and is gaining in recognition.
National Workshops for Statutory Auditors of PSUs
The PSUs are making fresh waves in India. After being considered as white elephants in the past, today PSUs have become drivers of economic growth and profitable ventures. Recognising the resurgence of PSUs, we are organising a series of Workshops for PSU auditors in association with the office of C&AG.
The need for organising the workshops for PSU auditors in association with C&AG was shared at the dinner meeting hosted on March 7, 2009, to felicitate Ms. Pravin Tripathi, Deputy C&AG (Commercial) and Ms. Bharti Prasad, Deputy C&AG wherein both sides aired their grievances. Members of C&AG felt that their expectations were not being met whereas our members expressed the considerable difficulty they face in getting allotment of PSU audits.
Therefore, it was decided to hold joint programmes so that the gap could be bridged. This is the first time that programmes are being organised in collaboration with C&AG. I am sure that these workshops would create a better understanding of both sides and immensely benefit our members in discharging their professional responsibility while carrying out audit of the PSUs.
The Institute has created and maintained a Museum of Accountancy at Noida wherein the evolution of the accountancy profession in India is recorded and archived for future generations. I am very pleased to inform you that the Government of India has given due recognition to the Museum and approved the name Accountancy Museum of India. We now have the credibility and authority to communicate information on this often neglected but one of the great intellectual streams of study and profession in the world. It is indeed a matter of great pride and honour that the Institute has been entrusted with this task of creating permanent footprints of this great profession by way of a museum and I am sure that all the members and students would make it a point to contribute with their ideas and suggestions to make this Museum one of the wonders of the accountancy profession. Also, all of you must make it a point, during your future trips to New Delhi or Noida to visit the Museum which would provide you a deep insight into the accountancy profession and bring you closer to the Institute that you are a part of. We also plan to create and maintain a similar Museum in Mumbai.
The Motto Song
To instill pride and a sense of belonging, you will be glad to know that the audio version of our motto of the Institute in form of composed song is now available on the Institute website. You may download the same and store it in your mobile phones and use it as a ring tone. This unique ring tone will distinguish you from others and make you feel part of a great profession. You may download this song from http://www.icai.org/resource_file/16068ICAIMottoSong1.mp3.
Website for Professional Opportunities
In order to provide timely and necessary information on practice development and professional opportunities to the members, we have launched a new website. www.pdicai.org. This site has been designed to provide members with all the information that they need to enrich their own practice and provide value added services to their clients. On this website, you will find professional opportunities including invitation for tenders, consulting assignments etc., matters of professional interest, media reports, relevant court judgments, circulars and notifications of various government bodies, important contacts and links, ready reckoner and a forum where members can post their queries to be answered by the other users of the site.
After the hue and cry that followed the Satyam fiasco, I had assured you all that I would take up the pending disciplinary cases on top of my agenda. I am pleased to inform you that we completely revamped the process and brought the disposal of all the cases under the old Act at the prima-facie stage by the Council (Complaint/Information), upto 17th November, 2006 but for the last 25 cases which are included in the agenda of the Council for its prima facie opinion.
Moreover, in the last meeting of the Council, the Council had considered 12 Disciplinary Reports. Out of 12 reports, 6 reports pertained to the Second Schedule Matters. The Council had recommended the punishment in 4 cases, 1 case was referred back for further enquiry and 1 case was decided not guilty under Second schedule. The following punishment(s) were awarded in aforesaid 4 cases:
Name removal for 5 year 1 Name removal for 3 years 2 Letter of Caution 1
Under the amended Act and Rules framed there under, approx 100 cases are on the verge of finalization and the exercise is on with top priority to the Public Interest Cases.
The building up of infrastructure continues in full swing. Better infrastructure and facilities not only enable us to provide better service to our members and students but also go a long way to improve the brand image of our Institute. On 26th April, I inaugurated an ITT Lab at Sikar and on 1st May at Amravati. On 3rd May, 2009 I had the opportunity to lay the foundation stone for a new building at Ahmednagar and on 12th May I attended the inauguration ceremony for construction of branch building at Nashik. It is my vision to see that the Institute and all its constituents have the best of infrastructure so that it is able to provide quality service to its members, students and society at large.
Online CPT Examination - A Milestone
With online CPT examination becoming a reality this year, aspiring CA students would now have the option to appear either online or by the traditional paper-pencil method. And taking into account the futuristic vision and great positive feedback, I have decided to hold CPT examinations 10 times in a year in addition to paper-pencil mode of examination in June and December every year. The online CPT examinations have been introduced primarily to popularise the online media and to familiarise the students with this media right from the time they enter the profession. As a pilot project, it would also enable us to study the feasibility of conducting all examinations online in the next four to five years.
You will all appreciate that the online examination would make the examination process more transparent and efficient. It has been reckoned by experts as an improvement over the conventional system, where the emphasis is on memorising rather than understanding concepts. The online examination system will test the student's indepth understanding and force him or her to think before arriving at a solution. Let's encourage students to take CPT examinations online.
The Certification Courses started by the Institute have become immensely popular as they provide perfect medium for our members to hone their professional skills on a wide variety of specialized areas of practice. These also provide opportunities for members to be exposed to new and emerging areas of practices such as IFRS, Forex and Treasury Management, ERM, Derivatives, Valuation, etc. The popularity of these Certification Courses can be judged by the huge number of members enrolling for them. I am sure these timely courses will attract and benefit even greater number of members in days to come, particularly in the backdrop of plethora of opportunities being offered in current globalised economy.
Bank MEF Form
As you all are aware, this year we had ensured that the Multipurpose Empanelment Form (MEF) is simplified to a great extent so as to evoke a greater response from our members. Our efforts have indeed paid off as we have received more than 10,500 applications till date within such a short duration of its availability. Members receive confirmation of their application immediately by SMS and queries are solved immediately. The feedback received on the simplified Empanelment Form from different parts of the country is indeed encouraging.
Many of you must be now homeward bound after having a relaxed holiday with your loved ones. Hectic days lie ahead with all statutory deadlines fast approaching. The new government will also announce the Budget once various ministries are formed. I take this opportunity to wish you the best for timely completion of your professional assignments with dedication.
In the words of Swami Vivekananda, By doing well the duty which is nearest to us, we make ourselves stronger; and improving our strength in this manner step by step, we may even reach a state in which it shall be our privilege to do the most coveted and honoured duties in life and society.
With pranaams to all, CA. Uttam Prakash Agarwal New Delhi, May 25, 2009