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PM inaugurates the Diamond Jubilee Year celebrations of ICAI
July, 02nd 2008

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, inaugurated the Diamond Jubilee Year celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) in New Delhi today. Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Singh called the Chartered Accountants of India to reaffirm their commitment to the cause of excellence, independence, ethical conduct and highest standards of professional integrity.

Following is the text of the Prime Ministers address on the occasion:

I am truly delighted to be here at this inaugural function of the Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India. I wish all the members, past and present, and students of ICAI every success on this very auspicious and happy occasion. I compliment you for the high standards of professionalism that you have come to be known for. An Indian chartered accountant is recognized worldwide as being among the best and the brightest in the profession.

Your institute has served our country with great distinction. I sincerely believe that we cannot be satisfied with the statusquo and I sincerely hope that the best is yet to come and that the next 60 years will be still more productive, innovative in the service of the people of our great country.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants has been at the forefront in the development of our accounting profession. The impressive growth in your membership, from 1,700 members in 1949 to over 1.5 lakh today, bears testimony to the growing demand for your services both at home and abroad. Yours is one of the premier accounting bodies in the world today and this is a matter of great pride for all of us.

Indian chartered accountants have truly earned a name and fame for themselves like so many of our professional workers. Indeed, long before Indian business was ready to face the challenge of globalisation and benchmark, our businesses against global best standards, our professionals were excelling themselves.

Like our engineers, doctors, scientists, technologists and other professionals, our chartered accountants too faced global competition and to their credit, they stood their ground. It is for this reason that today they are able to face the heat of that competition at home as well as abroad. Indian Chartered Accountants firms, I believe, should expand their operations outside India and seek global opportunities and challenges. That, I believe, is the destiny of our great country.

The role of the accounting profession is critical in lending credibility to the financial market transactions. Market participants, investors and shareholders look up to you for high quality information, which ensures market discipline and fosters confidence of various stakeholders. It is your responsibility to ensure that our corporate entities do indeed conform to high governance standards.

In the public discourse on governance I do not find adequate attention being given to corporate governance. Unless Indian firms come to be recognized world wide for good corporate governance, they will not be able to compete globally in an increasingly inter-dependent integrated world. In the era of protectionism few bothered about corporate governance and transparency in accounting and in management. Such laxity, however, is no longer possible. Shareholder democracy has come to stay and you are the watchdogs of this new corporate world of immense challenges, but also of immense opportunities.

The dynamism of a globalised capital market and the emergence of a knowledge-based economy and society have posed major challenges to accurate and speedy financial reporting. I am therefore happy to learn that your Institute has faced these challenges by creating a large base of high class Chartered Accountants, and developing high quality financial reporting standards.

I commend the Institutes commitment to the convergence of accounting, auditing and ethical standards with international best practices, and improving corporate governance. I urge you to continue to benchmark yourselves against the best available global practices. We cannot be satisfied with the chalta hai attitude if we have to satisfy the ambitions of our glowing workforce for a fast expanding economy and a polity with tremendous opportunities on the horizon.

India has made a mark in the services sector and must acquire the very top spot in terms of excellence, professionalism, speed, quality and predictability of service and, above all, reliability and integrity of service providers. I would like to see the day when the world looks upto Indian professionals in every field of modern professional work. I do believe thats the destiny of our great nation.

I am happy to note that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has taken the initiative to amend the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 to enable your Institute to strengthen its professional standing. A law on limited liability partnership is on the anvil. This would help in the consolidation and growth of small firms and promote multi-disciplinary practices in line with the evolving global trends. The e-Governance initiative of MCA-21, for user-friendly regulation and compliance management, is a revolutionary step for effective administration of the Companies Act and I congratulate my esteemed colleague, Shri Prem Chand Gupta for having presided over the Ministry at this very innovative phase of its functioning.

Our government would greatly welcome your suggestions from the Institute members on ways and means to introduce greater transparency and accountability in financial accounting and reporting systems of the government at all levels.

We have placed great emphasis on the devolution of financial and administrative powers to Panchayati Raj Institutions. This will impart local ownership to development schemes and encourage transparency and accountability. A proper accounting system for funds received and spent by panchayati raj institutions will be critical to making this innovative experiment in decentralization a success. With the presence of Chartered Accountants even in the remotest part of our country, you can also facilitate financial inclusion and access to finance for the rural poor, through micro finance and other innovative measures.

I believe the Institute should also focus its attention on creating a second tier of accounting qualification which could meet the emerging demand for skilled accounting personnel in the growing rural economy, and in small and medium sectors. I congratulate the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for having taken lead in making this happen.

I am happy to note that your Institute has taken a number of steps to develop the profession of accountability in other countries where the profession is in its infancy. These initiatives should be further intensified so that the benefit of expertise of the accounting profession in India is available to other developing countries across the world.

Technical excellence and adherence to high ethical standards are essential conditions for growth and development of any profession. Your Institute has been pro-active in aligning its educational curriculum with a changing business environment. I am glad that you have made continuous professional education mandatory for your members. That is as it should be in this fast changing world. Ethical standards for the profession in India should be no less stringent than existing international standards found elsewhere. There should not be any laxity in enforcing these rigorous standards.

On this happy occasion of the inauguration of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of the ICAI, it would be most appropriate for Indian Chartered Accountants to reaffirm their commitment to the cause of excellence, independence, ethical conduct and highest standards of professional integrity. I once again congratulate the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and all of you on this occasion. The Institute as I said has served our country with great distinction in the last 60 years. But I sincerely hope and pray that the best is yet to come. I wish the Institute and all those connected with it all success in your endeavour to scale greater heights of excellence and commitment to our national goals and ideals.

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