Institute of Chartered Accountants of India
My dear Professional Colleagues,
A very Happy New year to all of you!
A new year marks a new beginning. With the onset of another year, we stand at a junction, face to face with the chance to build a fresh start. Infused with hope and positive energy, we must let all bygones be bygones, as when we set to accomplish some goals, it is natural for some agenda to remain unfinished in the process. These should then be addressed and achieved, afresh with the zeal and vigour the New Year brings in. Amidst our endeavour to free ourselves from the past, we ought to simultaneously remember to keep all our treasure-worthy lessons safe with us for lifetime. Basking in the light of the brighter and better opportunities that the New Year has in store for us, it is essential to ensure that we begin the next era of our lives with a peaceful mind. A new year also brings with it the chance for us to recall our aims and goals and realign our targets with the ever-changing circumstances. The legacy of crafting new year resolutions has continued through the ethos of time and all for good reason. After all, any task well begun is half done.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has always been a firm believer of the fact that independence, integrity and excellence are best accompanied with consistency and persistent eyes on the goals. It urges one and all to not let their New Year resolutions get lost in daily routines. Rather, with unbridled willpower and undying determination induced by this new beginning, we hope you materialise all your dreams and aspirations.
In more than seven decades of existence, the profession has reached pinnacles, not without reason. The three hundred thousand plus members are the touch points of the profession connecting with stakeholders – big and small, spread in different parts of the world. The future lies in your hard work and ethical conduct that can take you to achieve and help the profession to grow. The Institute and its members need to work in tandem with each other to achieve and deliver the needs of business, society and nation. CA. H.B. Dhondy, Past – President, ICAI said “The life blood of any organisation, particularly of a professional Institute, is the active interest and participation of its members. One of the dangers inherent in any organisation such as ours is that it can become remote from its members, lose their support, and so its raison d’être.”
While you put in your best foot forward, it is also of extreme importance to cherish your family and friends and make time for them. The love of your kith and kin is more than enough to ensure that the New Year energy sustain the upheavals of time and make it to the end of the year. After all it is nothing but the shelter of their love and the comfort of their companionship that makes all ends easier and beginnings happier. “The real friendship is like fluorescence, it shines better when everything has darkened .” – Rabindranath Tagore
Let me update you about some of the significant developments that have taken place during last one month:
The ICAI’s premier International Conference on “Accountancy Profession: Catalyzing Reforms, Creating Values”, was successfully held on December 6-7, 2019 in Mumbai, the financial capital of India. The Conference witnessed a galaxy of speakers both of national as well as international eminence from Government, Industry and Accounting profession including Mr. Alan Johnson, Deputy President, IFAC; CA. Suresh Prabhu, Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and Prime Minister’s Sherpa to G 7 and G 20 and CA. Thomas Chazhikadan, Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha). The Conference was addressed by 36 speakers including many Past-Presidents of ICAI.
Among others, present and former members of the ICAI Central Council and Regional Councils, Chairmen of ICAI Branches and ICAI foreign Chapters were present at the Conference. The Conference witnessed overwhelming response with over 1200 delegates attending the event and over 4500 members virtually participated through live webcast. For the first time online structured CPE hours were introduced at this Conference on the basis of Multiple Choice Questions where 800 members participated on day 1 and 388 members on day 2. The Conference provided an apt platform for participants to interact on areas of relevance to the accountancy profession. There were five technical sessions, four panel discussion and two special sessions at the Conference. The Conference had a separate concurrent session on ‘Overseas opportunities for Indian CAs’ which was addressed by the representatives of 12 ICAI overseas Chapters.
A delegation from CPA Australia led by Mr. Andrew Hunter, CEO, CPA Australia had visited ICAI Mumbai and had met with ICAI leadership to discuss on the renewal of the MRA between ICAI and CPA Australia. Discussions were held on organising joint online CPD programs for members of both the Institutes. It was suggested that public practice was another area wherein both the Institutes could collaborate. CPA Australia also shared with us their experience as WCOA 2018 host which was very enlightening. They also offered to promote the World Congress among their members through various means.
I also had the pleasure to attend and address at the Annual Event of ICAEW on the theme ‘Digital in a Finance World’ on December 5, 2019 in Mumbai. Happy to share that ICAI and ICAEW have collaborated for a joint research on ’Robotic Process Automation’. The project will focus on the research question – how are businesses automating finance and accounting processes.
(a) Reduction in fee of Certificate Courses and Diploma Courses: Skills and knowledge are the driving forces of any profession. Continuing education and professional development are the hallmark of accountancy profession, and to meet the increased expectations of all stakeholders it is imperative to provide more impetus on skill capacity building. IFAC also requires, “professional accountants, regardless of sector or size of the organisation in which they operate, undertake relevant CPD to develop and maintain professional competence to perform their role as a professional accountant.”. I am pleased to inform you that to enable more members to take benefit of Certificate Courses and Diploma Courses, we have recently decided to reduce registration fee by 30%. This is a bold initiative taken by the ICAI to get the membership to skill itself in specialised areas and I hope more and more members will utilise this opportunity.
Further, it has been decided to create a fund of 30 crore for Skill Development/ Capacity Building initiatives for CA professionals to primarily focus on development of audit tools, software, arrangements, etc. and to equip them with latest technology and develop the Skill Set for their Professional Enhancement.
(b) Digital Competency Maturity Model 2.0: To enable our accounting firms to gauge their relative maturity level as regards their digital competency pertaining to Audit and Accounting related functions being rendered by them, the Digital Accounting and Assurance Board of ICAI is releasing ‘Digital Competency Maturity Model (DCMM) for Professional Accounting Firms – Version 2.0 and Implementation Guide”. This newer version has taken into account discipline specific categorisation of accounting firms and related technology adoption for achieving efficiency and productivity gains. It also includes a new section on emerging technologies and also provides guidance on implementation of each of the sections. The Board is setting up a strategy for encouraging members to adopt DCMM Version 2.0. With this evaluation accounting profession will embrace emerging technologies which will not only enable them to harness power of technology but will also play effective role as digital transformation catalysts.
(c) Ready Referencer on Engagement and Quality Control Standards: Chartered Accountants provide high quality services to business and industry bringing credibility to the financial statements and various reports. In this regard, Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (AASB) of ICAI has released a booklet, ’Ready Referencer on Engagement and Quality Control Standards’’, containing 46 Engagement and Quality Control Standards issued till date for the benefit of members.
AASB has also completely revamped its E-learning course on Standards on Auditing. Under the revamped course, existing text based e-learning modules have been discontinued and the video lectures of all standards have been converted to e-learning modules by incorporating necessary changes.
We through the Committee for Export of CA Services and WTO have organised Overseas Campus Placement for Chartered Accountants and Accountants from 12th to 14th December, 2019 in Delhi, Mumbai and Chennai in physical mode and in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Pune, Jaipur and Ahemdabad through video call. During the drive 18 companies, 4971 Chartered Accountants and 1342 Accountants have registered for 116 vacancies for Chartered Accountants and 26 for Accountants. Out of which 492 Chartered Accountants and 69 Accountants have been shortlisted and 187 Chartered Accountants and 47 Accountants have consented and accepted the assignments.
The Institute has been formulating accrual based Accounting Standards for Local Bodies (ASLBs) since March 2005 to improve financial reporting of Government at the third-tier of Government, i.e., Local Bodies that are moving towards accrual accounting. Moving forward in this direction, the Council has recently approved 12 new ASLBs in addition to 15 already issued ASLBs to complete the set of ASLBs, which can be considered by the Government for the notification and time bound implementation.
This is indeed a big step towards improving financial management system in the local bodies. ASLBs are based on the internationally accepted Accounting Standards for Government, i.e., International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSASs) and take into account India’s unique governance and demographic features.
As a part of contributing to national agenda and sharing our expertise in taxation domain, ICAI regularly submits its Pre- Budget memoranda in the areas of Direct and Indirect Taxation. It is a matter of great pride for us that many of our suggestions are acknowledged and regularly form part of annual budgets released in past by the government. Invariably, we share our concerted views on simplification of tax laws, removal of challenges and improvement in tax base.
Pre-Budget Memorandum, 2020, on (Direct and International Taxation) included the suggestions from members at large, ICAI branches, study circles, and other stakeholders was submitted to the Central Board of Direct Taxes that followed a Pre-budget meeting with CBDT officials wherein the suggestions of ICAI were discussed in an elaborate manner. On similar lines, we presented the highlights of the suggestions contained in Pre-Budget Memorandum, 2020 (Indirect Taxes) before the officials of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs and later on submitted finalised Pre-Budget Memorandum, 2020 on Indirect Taxes.
A State Level Conference on Investor Education and Awareness was organised by Committee on Capital Market and Investors Protection in Dharamshala on 20th December, 2019 under the aegis of Investor Education Protection Fund Authority (IEPFA) of MCA. The conference was inaugurated by Shri. Anurag Singh Thakur, Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs, Government of India and was graced by Shri Manoj Pandey, Joint Secretary and CEO, IEPF Authority, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Shri. Navneet Chauhan, General Manager, IEPF Authority and CA. Atul Kumar Gupta, Vice-President ICAI.
ICAI Digital Learning Hub is an integrated Learning Management System (LMS) which brings a new knowledge ecosystem in a collaborative pedagogical model with participatory learning to improve learner outcome. I urge all members and students to visit learning.icai.org and experience this path breaking reform which also enables fulfillment of structured and unstructured CPE limits. I would like to mention here that on the basis of requests received from Members who were unable to comply with CPE hours requirements for current calendar year and block period, CPE Directorate has decided to extend the last date for compliance of CPE hours requirements for the Calendar year 2019 and Current Block period 2017-2019 till 31st January, 2020.
The issue of perception gap regarding the profession continues to remain of utmost concern and importance to the Institute. I may not over-emphasise when I say that the nation, as well as the economy, depends on us for true, fair and reliable financial statements. The Central Government as well as State Governments heavily rely on us, while determining the accuracy of expenditure incurred as allocated in their Annual Budget for various Sectors/Schemes. They primarily rely on the Utilisation Certificate issued by us, to substantiate the veracity of such expenses. It is absolutely essential that each one of us, while performing our professional assignment, keep in mind the image of our profession and constantly endure to perform our functions, in accordance with the Code of Conduct and integrity, which certainly has to be the touchstone of our profession.
In this regard, I am pleased to share that we have taken various steps to further strengthen the core regulatory function of ICAI by way of appointing more professional manpower, infrastructure development through initiation of automation of the disciplinary process and e-hearings and conducting regular and frequent meetings of different benches of the Disciplinary Committee (DC) and Board of Discipline (BOD).
I wish to share that during the current Council Year we have held a total number of 59 meetings of Board of Discipline and Disciplinary Committee upto 30th November, 2019. With support of all DC/BOD members specially Government Nominees, we have concluded hearing in 351 cases which is much higher as compared to cases concluded in past many years and have also awarded punishment in 64 cases. Further, the DC/BOD has also considered prima facie opinion of the Director (Discipline) in 387 cases during current Council Year.
I may add that the aforesaid disposal mentioned in statistical terms is a testimony of the time and efforts spared by my colleagues from the Council and the Government Nominees in the said Committee/Board who have shared my burden through participation in meetings despite their other commitments and professional assignments so as to try and achieve an expeditious disposal of the disciplinary matters on hand.
Shri Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, first Vice President and the second President of India said “The worst sinner has a future, even as the greatest saint has had a past. No one is so good or bad as he imagines.” The power of mind is strong and useful power that human beings possess. This power consists of our thoughts and makes us optimistic or pessimistic. These thoughts are responsible for everything that happens in our lives and optimism is the cornerstone of accomplishments.
Our thoughts have potential to unleash the unexplored abilities that we have. A Journey, however long and strenuous, begins with small steps. Steps that can lead you to your goals and bring joy. A positive attitude can make us happier and resilient to the challenges that the life throws on us. We can achieve, what we believe in. Our potential is guided by our thoughts.
Positivity is enshrined in the smile that we may have accepting a challenging task. Accepting a challenge we may not be sure of answers explaining what, where, when, who, why and how aspects of the challenge, but gracefully accept it and make a small beginning. Soon we realise things fall in place and how simple it is to complete the task and emerge winner. Chartered Accountants with their acumen are in position to plan and strategise and achieve many tasks that otherwise look impossible. We need to come forward and give a try. For if we do not try with the positivity, how can we achieve? As it is said –“Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.”
I heartily conclude my message with greetings for the Republic Day, Makarsankranti, and Pongal, to all of you.
CA Prafulla P. Chhajed
26th December, 2019