The country’s accounting regulator is doing a reality check on whether Indian accountants stand to gain from the opening up of the sector, ahead of a fresh meeting between officials from India and Singapore for reviewing a bilateral trade pact.
The two governments have asked professional associations from both sides to meet on the sidelines of the review meeting of the CECA next month to discuss the possibility of greater participation and bilateral trade in services. “The procedural issues must be sorted out to ensure that trade flows in commercial services will grow at a comparable pace as merchandise trade growth,” an ICAI official said, requesting anonymity.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has called for comments from its members on the possible impact of greater bilateral engagement between the two countries in the sector. The Indo-Singapore comprehensive economic cooperation agreement (CECA), which came into force in 2005, was expected to result in the opening up of the services sectors in the two countries apart from dismantling of barriers in trade in goods. However, it has not yet been able to deliver satisfactorily in the realm of services due to various reservations from both sides.
The initial years saw several unforeseen problems such as the inability and unwillingness to conclude the mutual recognition agreements (MRAs), which would lead to recognition of domestic qualifications in the partner country.
The official said that the questionnaire sent to the CAs is aimed at assessing the impact of the Indo-Singapore CECA with respect to Indian services sector.
While the agreement will provide domestic accountants an opportunity to work in the buoyant market, ICAI wants to assess the impact of Singapore-based firms making their foray into the Indian soil.
With the CECA review looking to signing of mutual recognition agreement (MRA) of their respective qualifications, the ICAI is skeptical over allowing less qualified professionals to practice in India as Singapore allows persons to be admitted as CAs without passing the requisite exam.
“This is a key difference between the two countries as regards regulating their accountants’ work,” the official said, adding that this aspect will form part of the discussion.
ICAI has formed MRAs with countries such as the United Kingdom and Australia.