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CAs may soon be able to keep books in US, Australia & Singapore
August, 24th 2006
Chartered accountants are seeking to widen their horizon. With gloabalisation gaining ground, they are keen to tap business in other countries and are willing to support opening of the Indian market on a reciprocal basis. Efforts have been initiated to ink mutual recognition agreements (MRAs) with the US & Australia, and talks are at an advanced stage with Singapore so that Indian CAs can take up work in these countries. The government may give the move a thrust when a US delegation led by Franklin Lavin, under secretary for international trade, US dept of commerce, visits the country later this year. US has informed New Delhi that its accounting regulator, the International Qualification Assessment Board (IQAB) is in touch with its Indian counterpart the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and that the issue continues to be monitored during its trade policy review. Meanwhile, ICAI, which is at an advanced stage of talks with Singapore in line with the comprehensive economic co-operation agreement (CECA) between the countries, has also started talks with its counterpart in Australia the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Australia. It also has a joint working group with UK to work out an MRA. The talks are expected to gain pace due to a convergence of views between the government, the industry & some major legislative initiatives. The limited liability partnership (LLP) bill, which allow partnerships without a cap on the number of partners, is expected to please both the professionals here and in the partnering country. Now there is a ceiling of 20 partners in a partnership firm and 10 in a banking firm. Professionals say the new law will ensure a level playing field, while liberalising services trade. We are ready to open up the accounting sector on a reciprocal basis. Our professionals should be allowed to do in the partnering country what we allow them to do here. We see it as an opportunity, not as a threat, said ICAI president TN Manoharan. He said that talks revolve around five areas for the convergence of the qualification. These are the minimum eligibility for a student to enrol for accounting qualification, the curriculum, practical training, examination and the licensing needed for practice (not for working with a corporate). MRAs have the advantage that the liberalisation could be broader than what is envisaged under the WTO accounting, auditing and book keeping. Taxation-related services, restructuring, valuation and consultancy are not part of WTO talks.
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