Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
ICAI President’s Message – September 2020 – (05-09-2020)
Dear Professional Colleagues,
Challenges and difficult times are nothing but learning lessons crucial for success. Nelson Mandela rightly remarked, ‘I never lose. I either win or learn’. With an optimistic perspective and a never-give-up attitude, man is invincible and triumph is inevitable. After all, if the eye is steadily set on the goal, one can take temporary challenges in their stride and rise against all odds. In this backdrop, our country is progressing well against the pandemic that has impacted lives and businesses across all sectors and geographical locations. Come what may, the mankind has to move ahead. For if one attempts, they are already a step closer to victory, but if one quits, all progress is lost. The secret to success lies in consistently trying and perseveringly working, without losing faith. Life is a tempestuous journey full of unforeseen ebbs and flows and only those make it to the end, who keep marching forward, undeterred.
CA. Atul Kumar Gupta
The pace of the progress is immaterial, as long as we continue to learn, innovate, evolve and grow. I am sure the Indian economy will come back to its path for achieving five trillion-dollar mark sooner than later. We must remember, targets are achieved if we remain undeterred on the course without leaving any stone unturned. Grinding and pegging away only make the taste of victory sweeter and the success story more interesting.
As Chartered Accountants we are the custodians of financial propriety in business and economy. With an unwavering will we can move ahead, overcoming difficult challenges in the terrain to be true partner in the national efforts to build a new India. To have a country that magnificently stands tall amongst the most progressive economies of the world. Remember – quitters can never be winners and winners are never quitters. With patience, positivity and persistence, Chartered Accountants are capable of materialising all dreams and attaining all goals. In the constantly changing and dynamic world that we exist in, the key is to maintain confidence and trust in one’s capacities as constant. Knowledge and skills, however important, become secondary. During the most difficult moments, one must remember that even a seed has to endure the dirt and darkness to become a plant; ergo keep going!
Businesses use human and natural resources to produce goods and services. While conversion of resources to economically beneficial output is integral to human growth, the uncontrolled resource utilisation, however, has proven to be unsustainable and exploitative to the environment in the present competitive world. There is increasing awareness amongst businesses in particular and society in general for the need for business accountability on the social and environmental impacts of the business actions. Our actions need to preserve flora and fauna. In this regard, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) had earlier constituted a committee wherein I was also privileged to be a member. The ‘Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR)’ has been released now. On the occasion Secretary, MCA Shri Rajesh Verma, IAS appreciated the efforts of the committee in proposing a robust reporting framework and stated that the MCA will work closely for its implementation. He also emphasised the fact that Indian companies are aspiring to have global foothold and thus they cannot ignore the emerging trend of Corporate Governance i.e. Responsible Business.
In another initiative towards sustainability, the comptroller and auditor general constituted a cell on natural resource accounting (NRA) in India and a Concept Paper in this regard is recently released. The NRA audit will prepare a balance sheet of natural resources with assets account in respect of four major natural resources viz., mineral and energy resources, water, forestry & wildlife and land resources.
ICAI has been playing a prominent role in the International arena by having a focused approach to work for the global accountancy profession. Continuing its efforts to expand its global presence and footprints, the ICAI inaugurated its two new Chapters and twelve Representative Offices (nodal points) in a virtual event held on the evening of July 30, 2020. ICAI, earlier had a presence of 34 Chapters and 5 Representative Offices globally and in this continuous endeavour of expanding its global footprint, the Institute has recently launched 2 new Chapters. One in Luxembourg, the 4th Chapter in Europe and the other in Fujairah, United Arab of Emirates, adding the 11th Chapter in Middle East region. Today, ICAI has 36 Chapters across the globe. Going further, ICAI also launched 12 new Representative Offices (nodal point) in Africa and Middle East region namely: Ghana (Accra); Rwanda (Kigali); Mauritius (Port Lious); Democratic Republic of Congo (Kinshasa); South Africa (Durban and Johannesburg); Egypt (Cairo); Jordan (Aqaba); Seychelles (Mahe); Malawi (Lilongwe); Malawi (Blayntre) and Mozambique (Maputo).
Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Hon’ble Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Chief Guest at the inaugural event, complimented ICAI and stated that CA fraternity across the world can be a global voice for India and can act as Global Ambassadors in each country. The Minister also stated that the CA fraternity in India already acts as a messenger between corporates and the Ministry and that the feedback of the fraternity is always taken positively. Praising the profession, Hon’ble Minister Thakur mentioned that the ICAI is respected not only in India, but across the world for its outstanding excellence in education, professional development, accounting, auditing and policy matters.
ICAI overseas Chapters facilitate in bringing foreign investment to India and also assist Indian Industry by guiding them about the investment opportunities in different parts of the world, thereby creating avenues for them to become Aatmanirbhar. Speaking at the occasion, Guest of Honour, Shri Santosh Jha, Hon’ble Ambassador of India to European Union congratulated ICAI on taking such an initiative. He said that the initiative would further strengthen the relations between India and Europe and reaffirm the support to ICAI and its Luxembourg Chapter to work closely towards strengthening the trading ties and investment opportunities. The event was also addressed by Ms. Devi Gopinath, First Secretary (Political).
You may recall that ICAI, had earlier this month launched 5 Representative Offices at Chicago, Dallas, Houston, New England Region and Washington D.C, thereby expanding its global presence to 53 cities of the world.
Being a knowledge driven profession, research is the lifeline of accounting profession. Continuous research helps to unearth the issues and challenges faced by the global economy and how accounting profession can play its due role in the society. Research can pave the path to identify innovative practices in mitigating various emerging financial and non-financial risks and implementing good practices for promoting public interest. At ICAI, it is firmly believed that research is the key to innovation and growth in the emerging economic environment. The ICAI envisions to support research works to make a positive and tangible impact in standards setting, new reporting practices frameworks, policy making and like. To recognise the research community across the globe and their contribution in fostering innovation and value creation, ICAI has taken a major initiative in the form of International Research Awards. The awards aspire to develop a research-oriented ecosystem to promote trade, investment and public interest in the globalised financial markets. The inspiration to take awards global was to encourage researchers to work across the industry and borders to develop global standards and policy inputs imbibing elements of trust and excellence in reporting and governance in the emerging tech-enabled global world. We will keep you posted about further developments on this initiative of ICAI aimed to build a global collaborative research capacity on all accounting related issues to develop global legacy for the profession.
In the above background, I am also happy to inform that Research report on the implementation of automation technologies in finance functions jointly done by ICAEW and ICAI has been finalised under the aegis of Digital Accounting and Assurance Board. This project provided us a unique opportunity of interviewing and digging the knowledge well of major organisations from India and UK and I am sure, it will be good source of knowledge enrichment for members.
Further, I am glad to share that this year we would be seeking additional optional information related to professional experience in the fields other than Bank Branch Audit. The Professional Development Committee has added certain new fields in the Multi-purpose Empanelment Form to capture varied experience of our members in different fields like internal audit, indirect tax, forensics, and international experience, etc. This will enable us to put forward the data at appropriate fora for various professional opportunities other than Bank Audit. I request the members to come forward and fill their information, though optional, and avail the benefit of multiple opportunities under one umbrella.
In the dynamic world that we live in, change is the law of nature. To avoid stagnancy of ideas and push the wheel of growth, it is important to consistently attempt to improve and evolve. In sync with the same belief, Indian state took a leap towards a better future and reintroduced a new Education Policy to replace 34-year-old National Policy on Education (NPE), 1986. The policy intends to broaden the choices available to students and incorporate more modern initiatives to ensure greater learning. Built on the foundational pillars of access, equity, quality, affordability and accountability, the new policy is aligned with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The change aims to transform our country into a vibrant knowledge society and global knowledge hub.
Progressive ICAI cannot lag behind and needs to attune its systems and structures in line with the new education policy. While the present education and training scheme was implemented only three years back on July 01, 2017, it is important to remain in tandem with the new policy and emerging ideologies. I am happy to share that to analyse impact of the new policy on our scheme of education and training, we have constituted a Group, namely, “Group for Considering the Impact of the National Education Policy on CA Course of ICAI”. The group will recommend changes, wherever required, in the ICAI’s Scheme of Education and Training to be in line with the new policy. The group will also identify and address challenges, if any, that may arise to ICAI out of the changes to be brought in vide the said policy.
The global effect of present pandemic on education is mammoth. It has not only thrown education around the world out of gear, but also led to the shutting of educational institutions including schools, colleges and universities. The raging pandemic has led to the students being confined at homes with virtual teaching as their only saviour. ICAI firmly believes that though the situation is unprecedented, the journey of learning must continue. ICAI has taken a series of steps in the overall interest of student community. These include from extension of key cutoff dates to providing live lectures.
I am happy to intimate that ICAI has almost doubled the number of examination centres in India, besides opening new overseas examination centres, taking ICAI presence to Africa besides middle east. This facility will make it convenient and safe for students to take the November 2020 examinations. It will assist the students not to travel beyond their district in most of the cases. ICAI has also released frequently asked questions to help students to get answers to the common questions. These are available at https://www.icai.org/category/announcements.
Unprecedented pandemic situation, has also posed serious challenges before the members wherein professional opportunities are diminishing, resulting into dwindling income or much delayed recoveries of professional fee. Providing a helping hand, CABF management committee has approved the one-time support for hospitalisation expenses during treatment of COVID 19 for members or dependent family members for a maximum amount of 1,50,000/-. Accordingly, an intimation to all members has been issued in this regard, and I request you to bring this to the notice of those who are in need.
The Covid-19 pandemic struck the world as an unforeseen shock, unlike anything we witnessed before. While it has brought the earth to a temporary standstill and pressed a pause button to the life as we knew it, it has also showed an ocean of opportunities to learn reform and grow by constantly testing our mental strength and resilience. In trying times like these, it is imperative to remember that door that imprisons you is also the door to liberation. After all, a free mind is the fundamental storehouse of evolved ideas and creative impressions. Even in the times of adversity, we must continue to traverse across unexplored corners of our mind and search for the answers to questions that hound us. At the end of the day, the first step to achieving progress is by believing it can happen, no matter the challenges we face or hurdles we come across.
Best wishes. Stay Safe and Healthy.
Jai Hind, Jai ICAI.
CA. Atul Kumar Gupta
New Delhi, 31st August, 2020