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Audit watchdogs may get more service sway
September, 23rd 2009

The government is considering a proposal to authorise the countrys three statutorily recognised institutes in the fields of accounting, company secretaryship and cost accounting to expand their ambit of functioning by providing services in all three areas. The proposal, however, is being opposed by the regulators themselves as many feel that it would lead to the end of specialisation and loss of functional and regulatory autonomy, a government official, who did not want to be identified, said.

The proposal, mooted by the ministry of corporate affairs, is now being deliberated upon by professional bodies including the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) and Institute of Cost and Works Accountants of India (ICWAI).

The government, which is mulling key amendments relating to the work of all the three institutes, felt the need to club their regulatory functions so as to give them greater powers as well as make them more accountable in cases of any default in service by them, the official pointed out.

This assumes relevance in the light of the fraudulent activities carried out in Satyam (now Mahindra Satyam) where professional lapses took place at various levels.

ICAI, ICSI and ICWAI are institutes that serve as parent organs for the chartered accountants, company secretaries and cost accountants, respectively, and prepare functional as well as regulatory guidelines pertaining to their own field of work. All three institutes have been formed under separate Acts of Parliament, with their registered members entrusted to do specific work that is exclusive to them.

To give the proposal a final shape and get it implemented, the government will have to go through a process of amendment of the Acts under which the institutes have been established. Even as the proposal is at a stage of discussion, the ICAI and the ICSI have voiced their opposition to the said move.

They have said the qualification and regulatory function presently exercised by a single institute should not be separated.

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