CA. Naveen N. D. Gupta
ICAI turned a new leaf in its glorious history by completing 69 years of working for nation-building and in public interest, and stepping into the Platinum Jubilee Year on 1st July 2018.
In celebration of the auspicious day, Hon’ble Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi sent his message to ICAI and later tweeted too: “Our nation’s Chartered Accountants are globally recognized for their work ethics and commitment to good corporate governance. The complete trust that people and businesses place in their CA is a testimony to your accuracy and integrity, and this is well-deserved.’’ He further said: “The nation looks up to the CA community to continue the good work, especially towards ensuring a cleaner and more tax-compliant economy.” Referring to our contribution to the successful implementation of GST in the country, Hon’ble Prime Minister further noted: “Such a feat could not have been achieved without your vital contribution in not only helping businesses adapt to the new tax regime but also in coming up with innovative ways to simplify the system. In the year gone by, many of you came up with videos, tutorials and other novel ways to guide people through the transition to a better tax regime. This is an example of the spirit of Team India where each of us contributes voluntarily, purely out of our own sense of initiative for the progress of the country.”
We on our part, being the guardians of financial probity, would proactively work to keep up the trust bestowed in us by the Government and the Society.
President of India Launches our Platinum Jubilee Celebrations
CA Day, this year, was special as it catapulted ICAI into the start of its Platinum Jubilee celebrations, which will continue for two years. Our Platinum Jubilee celebrations were launched by Hon’ble President of India Shri Ram Nath Kovind, in presence of Union Minister of State (I/C) for Communications and Minister of State for Railways Shri Manoj Sinha, Union Minister of State for Corporate Affairs and Law and Justice Shri P. P. Chaudhary and IFAC President Ms. Rachel Grimes.
Praising us for our endeavours, Hon’ble President of India said: “I am confident that ICAI and its members will keep up efforts to build a nation defined by tax transparency, tax predictability and tax compliance.” Union Minister Shri P. P. Chaudhary called Chartered Accountants agents of maximum governance in the corporate sector and among the most reliable partners to ensure ease of doing business in the country. Union Minister Shri Manoj Sinha launched a commemorative postal stamp showcasing ICAI’s journey into the 70th year of service to the nation, and hailed ICAI for having significantly contributed on both national and international front.
The community of about 3 lakh Chartered Accountants and about 8 lakh CA students celebrated the CA Day across the country. and the launch of Platinum Jubilee Year. Activities like blood donation drive, Swachh Bharat Abhiyaan and tree plantations were undertaken.
Blood Donation camps are being organised with a target of donating 70,000 blood units during the Platinum Jubilee year. So far, a total of about 7,000 units of blood have been donated. ICAI has also launched training programmes on GST for the skill development of girl students at 70 locations across the nation, wherein about 8,500 girls have already been trained. Over the year, target is to organise 700 such programmes and train 50,000 girls on pro bono basis as part of our contribution to the Beti Padahodrive. As our tribute to the Indian Armed and Paramilitary Forces, special scholarship scheme has been launched for their meritorious wards, which will continue till the Amrit Mahotsav of our country’s independence in the year 2022. We have decided to provide 50 per cent of the scholarships to the girl students. Main function that was held in New Delhi also included the address by Swami Sukhabodhananda, our past President and Padma Shri awardee CA. T. N. Manoharan and Management Guru Mr. Shiv Khera. A detailed report in this regard has been published in this Journal.
Here, I would like to announce with joy and pride that Mumbai (India) has been selected to host the World Congress of Accountants (WCOA) in the year 2022.
One can imagine the importance of this event by the fact that it will be attended by 5000-6000 delegates from 130 counties. This is the year in which India will celebrate its 75 years of independence, i.e. Amrit Mahotsav, which will coincide with the Olympics of accountancy, i.e. World Congress of Accountants. For the last more than 50 years, we had been vying to host this grand event and now in the year 2018, we have succeeded. This is a true reflection of not only the growing importance of Indian accountancy profession but also of the recognition of Indian growth momentum, world-class infrastructure and Clean India (Swatchh Bharat Abhiyaan) to which ICAI is the first organization to be a brand ambassador. I am thankful to the IFAC President Ms Rachel Grimes for making this joyous announcement during her speech.
In the CA Day function, Educational Material on Ind AS 27, Separate Financial Statements, Ind AS 28, Investments in Associates and Joint Ventures, Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS): An Overview, Frequently Asked Questions on Ethical Issues, Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS): Disclosure Checklist, Valuation: Professional Insights, Technical Guide on functioning of Audit Committee and Its Review Checklist, Judicial Pronouncements under Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016, Background Material on UAE VAT, among others, were released in professional interests. Two special publications relating to the history of profession, History of Accountancy Profession in India-Volume III and Treasure Trove of Wisdom from Visionaries-Volume II, were also released. The occasion also witnessed the launch of the portals of ICAI Knowledge Bank, ICAI Self Service Portal for Members and Students, and Centre of Virtual Excellence for Knowledge and Learning, and relaunch of the ICAI TV.
Now, let me apprise you of some of the significant developments that took place over the last one month:
Capacity-and Skill-Building Measures
Eight Indian Valuation Standards Issued: In order to have consistent, uniform and transparent valuation policies and harmonise the diverse practices that are in use in India, ICAI recently issued 8 Indian Valuation Standards along with Preface and Framework for Preparation of Valuation Report in accordance with Indian Valuation Standards, as a benchmark for valuation practices applicable for the Chartered Accountants at its 375th Council meeting, which are first of its kind in India.
Indian Valuation Standards as issued by ICAI will set up concepts, principles and procedures which are generally accepted internationally having regard to legal framework and practices prevalent in India. Effective for valuation reports issued on or after 1st July 2018, these Standards will be applicable for all valuation engagements on mandatory basis under the Companies Act, 2013 and recommendatory for engagements taken by members under other statutes like Income-tax, SEBI, FEMA, etc.
Meeting of RBI’s Expert Committee on NPAs and Frauds: Recently, I along with ICAI Vice-President CA. Prafulla Chhajed and Central Council colleagues represented the Institute at the meeting of Expert Committee on NPAs and Frauds, constituted by RBI under the Chairmanship of ICAI Past President and NACAS founder Chairman CA. Y. H Malegam, held recently in Mumbai, where we submitted our suggestions on the NPAs and frauds from audit perspective. Then we recommended that autonomy with regard to the appointment of statutory auditors should be reversed. The role and effectiveness of various types of audits conducted in banks in mitigating the incidence of divergence and frauds cannot be overlooked. Accordingly we suggested that the scope of bank-branch audit should be enlarged. We also stressed that not all bank branches are being subjected to statutory audit, and discussed the issues that included the appointment of statutory auditors by banks, concurrent audit to be done by CAs and uniformity be maintained for appointment, remuneration to be linked with scope of work, banks to have robust appraisal and an effective credit monitoring mechanism, among others.
We also briefed the Committee about a software developed by ICAI regarding the appointment of statutory auditors and implementation of UDIN. This can randomly map the statutory auditors associating them with the available vacancies in the public-sector banks. This year, three banks, namely Syndicate Bank, Dena Bank and Oriental Bank of Commerce, have used the software for the first time and submitted a positive feedback. We have conveyed to the Expert Committee that other banks should also be encouraged to use our software.
Certificate Course on Drafting Skills for Statutory Representations: Since Chartered Accountants are recognized under various Acts to appear as authorized representatives before various tribunals/quasi-judicial bodies, ICAI has recently approved a Certificate Course on Preparation of Appeals, Drafting of Deed & Documents and Representation before Appellate Authorities and Statutory Bodies, which will train the candidates in effectively drafting and acquainting themselves with the legal provisions pertaining to appearances before various authorities.
CA Directors’ Interactive Meet: We organised an annual interactive meet of CA Directors recently in New Delhi. IBBI Whole-Time Member Dr. Navrang Saini attended this meet as Chief Guest. Besides more than 40 CA Directors, Past Presidents of the Institute were also present.
GST Audit Report and Suggestions Submitted: As you know, ICAI has been proactively supporting the Government in the smooth implementation of GST which has won appreciations from the Indian polity led by the Prime Minister of India. In this direction, GST Audit Report (Form 9C) and Statement of Particulars (Form GSTR 9D) have been recently developed and submitted to the Ministry of Finance, which are to be furnished along with the Report to the Government.
In the spirit of partner-in-national-building, recently, ICAI submitted 120 suggestions to the Government on 12th July 2018 on various issues of GST. On 17th July 2018, a representation has been submitted suggesting alternative mechanism for reverse charge under GST. Responding to the Government’s request, suggestions have also been submitted on the proposed amendment in the GST Law on 18th July 2018. Earlier on 4th May 2018, suggestions had been submitted on the GST Annual Return Forms 9/ 9A/ 9B, responding to a request received from the office of Goods Services Tax Network.
New Accounting Standards for Local Bodies Issued: ICAI has issued 13 Accounting Standards for Local Bodies (ASLBs). Recently, the ICAI Council approved and issued the Accounting Standard for Local Bodies (ASLB) 2, Cash Flow Statements, and ASLB 20, Related Party Disclosures, which will be useful for the local bodies to identify their sources of cash inflows, cash outflows, and the cash balance as at the reporting date which will provide users of financial statements with information for both accountability and decision-making purposes.
Action on Misleading Media Report
We have taken strong note of the manner in which the headline of a news item about conmen masquerading as CAs has been printed in a leading newspaper. The report has talked about fake CAs helping unscrupulous taxpayers claim ‘hefty tax refunds’. However, the use of the term ‘CAs’ in the headline makes the report misleading for the readers in the first impression, and this appears grossly derogatory to us CA professionals. We have filed complaint with the Press Council of India, and issued show-cause notice to the newspaper that has published the report. Rest assured, we are also proactively taking note of all such reports in the media that portray our profession in bad light including weighing suitable legal remedies.
Widening Professional Horizon
ICAI Block Chain Summit 2018: Blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value. It is ingenious invention of the new type of internet and an important component of ABCD of technology-artificial intelligence, blockchain, cyber security and data analytics. To take note of these is an important imperative for the CA profession of the day. In line with the spirit, oneday workshop on ICAI Block Chain Summit 2018 was held recently in Mumbai, which was attended by a large number of members.
New Professional Opportunities at MCA: Granting our long standing demand to make use of professional excellence of our members, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs has invited 2-5-year-post-qualififcationexperienced Chartered Accountants to apply as Consultants in the offices of the Ministry across the nation. In a good beginning, the Ministry has offered 41 such positions to our members, which may be the first steps towards establishment of a chartered accountancy cadre in Government services. The job includes carrying out work related to compliance, investigation and inspection. I am sure the eligible members will take advantage of this new opportunity. We are pursuing with other departments also towards the offering of similar opportunities.
Developments at ICAI RVO: As you may be aware, there has been a sharp rise in the demand for valuation experts in India. As the industry goes global-by accessing capital or making acquisitions abroad-companies are seeking authentic valuations for their businesses. This offers new opportunities to our members by the virtue of their skills of excellence. To tap these opportunities, among others, we have already formed a Section 8 company ICAI RVO (Registered Valuers Organisation). Recently, a meeting of ICAI RVO was held, wherein Valuation Standards issued by ICAI were adopted under Rule 8 of Companies (Registered Valuers and Valuation) Rules, 2018. ICAI RVO has launched a 50-hour Educational Course for its valuer members at various locations across the country, towards preparation for the IBBI Registered Valuers Examination. Union Minister of State for Corporate Affairs and Law and Governance Shri P. P. Chaudhary handed over the certificates to qualified registered valuers in a function held on 19th July 2018.
Release of Concept Paper on Robotic Process Automation: Robotic process automation (RPA) is the next big thing in the global digital horizon which we cannot ignore. A manifestation of artificial intelligence, RPA offers a plethora of opportunities for CA professionals by enabling them with machine learning capabilities to handle high-volume, repeatable tasks that previously required humans to perform. Technological revolution in form of RPA is underway and this will be a big potential in reassigning resources and improving data quality and process efficiency. Keeping pace with the dynamic digital landscape, ICAI has released its Concept Paper on Embracing Robotic Process Automation–Opportunities and Challenges, which provides an overview of robotic process automation and explains what Chartered Accountants can do to adopt this technology.
Mega IBC Conclave in New Delhi: ICAI along with IIIPI (Indian Institute of Insolvency Professionals of ICAI) organised Mega IBC Conclave on 21st July 2018 in New Delhi, which was attended by a large number of delegates. IBBI Chairman Dr. M. S. Sahoo addressed the delegates and resolved their queries too. He also launched the three modules of educational course material for Securities or Financial Assets Class as brought out by the ICAI RVO, at the Conclave.
Forwarding Agenda of Profession
Meeting with Financial Services Secretary, Ministry of Finance: Recently I along with my Central Council colleague CA. Ranjeet Agarwal met Financial Services Secretary of Ministry of Finance Shri Rajiv Kumar and expressed our concerns regarding the system of appointment of statutory auditors by the banks’ Board, which violates the spirit of Companies Act and provides no basis on which allotments are being made. Our concerns were positively heard. We then apprised him about a software developed by us regarding selection of bank branch auditors.
Meeting with CBDT Chairman: Recently, I along with my Central Council colleagues CA. Tarun Ghia and CA. Sanjiv Chaudhary met the CBDT Chairman Shri Sushil Chandra with regard to our representation vis-à-vis the removal of the word accountant from the Rule 11UA of Income-tax Rules, 1962. Later, in another meeting, the CBDT Chairman assured that our concerns will be addressed suitably.
Meeting held with Chief Vigilance Commissioner: I along with my Central Council colleague CA. Ranjeet Agarwal met Chief Vigilance Commissioner Shri K. V. Chowdary recently to discuss the concerns raised by ICAI in the tendering process. Pointing out flaws in the current practice of least cost selection (LCS) system to award work for professional services (audit service), we suggested the adoption of quality- and cost-based selection (QCBS) system, which is getting recognition globally.
Startup Summit, 2018 in New Delhi: ICAI recently conducted a Startup Summit, 2018 Palette of Innovation in New Delhi. I along my Central Council colleagues inaugurated the event. IFAC President Ms. Rachel Grimes, along with her delegation also participated in the Summit. On the occasion, IFAC President launched brochure of the Executive Development Programmes on Blockchain Technology – Driver of Digital Era and Good Standing Management System.
Groups Formed: Recently, SEBI has released Consultation Paper on proposed SEBI (Fiduciaries in the Securities Market) (Amendment) Regulations having many recommendations including relating to auditors. In view of this, we have formed a Group under the convenorship of my Council colleague CA. Debashis Mitra member to look into the proposals and form our suitable response. Another group under the convernorship of my Council colleague CA. Dhinal Shah has been formed to examine the circumstances leading to the resignation of auditors, and also to analyse the recent circular of RBI on enforcement action framework. The Group would also suggest a suitable mechanism to address the issues/ concerns for guidance of the members.
Promoting Agenda on International Front
To promote the Indian Chartered Accountants and forward their agenda, ICAI has been involved in professional activities abroad, from getting involved in the founding of international accounting regulators and institutions to contributing its technical inputs at various international platforms on a regular basis. Some of the significant developments with regard to the international front are:
Union Cabinet approves MoU with SOCPA, CPA Ireland, NBAA and BIBF: I am delighted to inform you that the Union Cabinet of India chaired by Hon’ble Prime Minister has approved the MoU with Saudi Organisation for Certified Public Accountants (SOCPA), The Institute of Certified Public Accountants (CPA), Ireland, National Board of Accountants & Auditors (NBAA), Tanzania and Bahrain Institute of Banking & Finance, Bahrain. Very soon, the MoUs will be signed and executed. Details in this regard are available on the ICAI website. As you know, Accountancy and Finance Services are among the 12 Champion Sectors identified by the Government of India and this approval of MoUs is a step forward towards the promotion of export of accountancy services to the overseas market.
ICAI Signs MRA with SAICA: I am happy to share that ICAI has recently signed an MRA with the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants (SAICA) in Johannesburg, towards mutual recognition of ICAI and SAICA qualifications. This would facilitate greater mobility to professionals of both sides, while helping more than 1000 Indian CAs in the Africa region and many more members in India, who seek international qualification. ICAI Vice- President CA. Prafulla Chhajed, SAICA Acting CEO Ms. Fanisa Lamola and the Guest of Honour Consul General to Johannesburg Dr. K. J. Srinivasa were also present on the occasion.
53rd SAFA Board Meeting in New Delhi: 53rd SAFA Board meeting was held in New Delhi on 30th June 2018, where the responsibility of chairing of the newly-constituted Women Leadership Committee has been entrusted with the ICAI, after the endeavours of ICAI were suitably appreciated by the Board. In view of ICAI’s more than 90 per cent of share in the women accountants of the SAARC region, this development is quite justified. As nominated, my Central Council colleague CA. Sripriya Kumar will be the first Chairperson of the Committee.
First General Meeting of Hong Kong Chapter: I visited the Hong Kong Chapter of ICAI and attended its First General Meeting recently and addressed the members on emerging opportunities and resulting professional concerns. You will be happy to note that as per the Hong Kong’s Professional Accountants (Amendment) Ordinance, ICAI membership is recognized by Hong Kong Institute of Certified Public Accountants (HKICPA) and our members in good standing can become an international affiliate of HKICPA. This will increase the mobility of our members and enhance their employment and professional opportunities in this jurisdiction.
Inauguration of Malaysian Chapter of ICAI: Recently, I along with the ICAI past President (and CAPA President) CA. Manoj Fadnis inaugurated the 32nd Chapter of the Institute, i.e. Malaysian Chapter of ICAI, spreading our professional reach. As per the Accountants Act, 1967, of Malaysia, ICAI is a recognised body, which makes our members eligible to become a member of Malaysian Institute of Accountants. This will open yet another window of opportunities for our members in Malaysia complementing the opening of our Chapter there.
9th XBRL Asia Roundtable Meeting in Japan: Asian Development Bank’s Asian Bond Market Forum Meetings and 9th XBRL Asia Roundtable Meeting were held recently in Japan, to explore the opportunities that standardisation and technology could afford in helping to better link and integrate the economies within the region. From ICAI, my Central Council colleague and XBRL Director CA. Atul Gupta attended and shared his experiences and explained the issues in XBRL implementation.
Strengthening Member Services
With its sincere efforts of leveraging technology to empower its stakeholders including its members and bringing various relevant services to their doorstep, ICAI keeps taking up significant initiatives in the interest of our members particularly. Some of those are:
Results of CPT and Final CA Examinations Declared
Result of CA Final (Existing and Revised Scheme) Examination held in May 2018 and Foundation Examination and Common Proficiency Test (CPT) held in June 2018 have been declared. I congratulate Mr. Prit Pritesh Shah from Surat and Mr. Atul Agarwal from Jaipur for securing First Rank in the CA Final Examinations under Revised and Existing Scheme with 67.75 and 77.25 per cent marks respectively. Mr. Abhishek Nagaraj from Bengaluru and Ms. Samiksha Subhash Agarwal from Ulhasnagar got second and third rank with 67.38 and 65.50 per cent marks respectively under the Revised Scheme. Mr. Aagam Sandipbhai Dalal from Ahmedabad and Mr. Anurag Bagaria from Surat got second and third rank with 76.88 and 74.63 per cent marks respectively under the Existing Scheme. Eventually, 9104 and 139 candidates have qualified as Chartered Accountants under the Existing and Revised Scheme respectively.
In Common Proficiency Test 28.06 per cent candidates, i.e. 15284 out of 54474, have passed. And in Foundation Examination, 19.24 per cent candidates, i.e. 1215 out of 6315, have passed. In Foundation examination, Ms. Swati from New Delhi has secured First Rank with 83 per cent marks. Mr. Ayush Agrawal from Raipur and Ms Swaleha Sajid from Haldwani have secured second and third rank with 82.75 and 81.75 per cent marks respectively. I congratulate all successful candidates, including the rank-holders.
Meanwhile in a related move in line with the best global practices, I would like to inform that it has been decided that beginning from May 2019 examinations, assessment in 4 subjects each in Intermediate/ IIPCC and Final CA course, in both Old and New Scheme, would be partially based on objective type (multiplechoice type) questions, and weightage for objective type questions would be 30%, which will be compulsory in nature.
I would also like to congratulate everyone on the occasion of Parsi New Year (also known as Nauroj), Idu’ l Zuha (also known as Bakr-Id), Onam and Raksha Bandhan, which fall in August this year. Let us celebrate these together, since these are our festivals, those of our country.
This year, we will celebrate our 72nd Independence Day on 15th August 2018. We will also celebrate our professional autonomy on this auspicious day as permitted by the Constitution of India. Then, it will also be time to remember that all independence and autonomy comes with a refined sense of responsibility and our commitment to comply with the law of the land. On the eve of our Independence Day, let us promise to respect the space around each other and each other’s identity and dignity. This is the way we can preserve the spirit of our nation and its democratic foundations.
Shaheed Bhagat Singh had said: “Revolution is an inalienable right of mankind. Freedom is an imperishable birthright of all. Labour is the real sustainer of society…” Let us embrace and celebrate the idea of independence forever.
I wish all of you a very happy INDEPENDENCE DAY.
CA. Naveen N. D. Gupta
New Delhi, 25th July 2018