President's Message - September 2013
I sincerely express our gratitude to everybody who has helped in shaping the journey of the accountancy profession of India in the past. I would extend my deep appreciation to all of them for their sheer sense of wisdom and keenness to guide our profession, and the help and support the profession has received through various platforms and channels. And finally, I must say that it will always be our pleasure and privilege to have their wise presence amongst us.
I also take this opportunity to express our profession’s solidarity with the aggrieved family of our past-President CA. (Dr.) Rustom C. Cooper, who left for his heavenly abode recently. He was 91. He was our Central Council member for two consecutive terms (1958-64). He became our President in the year 1963-64. May his noble soul rest in peace!
Rajya Sabha Passes Companies Bill
Now that the Bill has been passed by both the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, we will systematically take up our concerns. We have taken up our issues with the competent authorities before. Recently, our Council discussed them too. We sincerely believe that there is a scope to address them through rules which will be exposed for public comments very soon. I will request all of you to send in your comments on the rules. At the same time, we are duty-bound to follow the law of the land and ensure our compliance, and we will, wherever required, also bring out guidance notes for smooth implementation of the provisions of the Bill.
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan had showed his absolute trust in our profession almost 55 years back: “…you have it in your power to do your best to expose corruption, fraud, leakage and wastage. You must be able to do it. It is only by that test that your services to the country will be tested ultimately. It is not what you do or what you don’t do that mattered very much. The important thing is whether you have satisfied your conscience—that must be the supreme canon of public behaviour.” We have been walking along these lines while sticking to the highest order of ethical conduct. Here his words become quite relevant. Our nation should know how Dr. Radhakrishnan had visualised our responsibilities: “In matters relating to the public enterprises which we undertake, our duty should be to see that monies spent are properly spent and that there is no wastage. That is a thing which you have to promote. You will help us in maintaining high standards of public behaviour by your frank and candid accounting and auditing.” Today, the Accountancy profession in India stands on these strong plinths and pedestals.
No need to Panic on Rupee and Economic Front
It is true that the Indian rupee has crossed the 65-dollar mark against the US dollar recently. Despite that, I am absolutely hopeful and in complete agreement with our Finance Minister Shri P. Chidambaram that although the rupee has depreciated beyond a reasonable and appropriate level, there is no need to panic and that the situation will improve in the coming months. This hope rightly stems from a series of serious and proactive measures taken by the Finance Ministry in tandem with the Planning Commission. We need not overreact since currency fluctuation is a worldwide phenomenon. The dollar is surging against most of the currencies worldwide, as the US is recovering from its slump and the world continues to have faith in the dollar as its reserve currency. It is true that the Indian rupee has depreciated by more than 7.5% this year, but so have currencies across the Asian and Latin American economies. So, the panic is not local. The RBI has undertaken measures to curb this volatility. The central bank has been selling dollars and buying excess rupees from the system and taking up measures for increasing export, reducing imports and raising the borrowing costs for banks, while closely observing the external developments that may lead to depreciation. I fully support our Finance Minister when he says that the Government is exploring the structural measures to further reduce the current account deficits. RBI Governor Shri D. Subbarao sounds comforting when he says that our country has got adequate foreign exchange reserves to manage the depreciation of the rupee. He has promised that the RBI will continue its cash-tightening measures till the Indian rupee stabilises.
As a result of this depreciation, our economy has opened up more than before. Export-oriented sectors are looking forward to some better days. Analysts are of the opinion that the Indian economy will be able to weather currency risks and continue to grow over the next few months. In this scenario, we Chartered Accountants, on our part, should help effectively implement the Government’s measures to stem the fall of the rupee and get the country’s fiscal arithmetic right and economy back on track. Our economic credentials are still the best among emerging economies, and I sincerely hope our macroeconomic indicators will remain fundamentally robust in the long run.
We recently formed a Study Group on Indian Economy in order to look into broad parameters of the Indian economy and its relevance to our profession. The Group will analyse how to revive the economy while suggesting both smart short- and long-term goals and measures that can be recommended further up. Using this Group, we can also observe the utility and viability of large-scale socially-funded projects while promoting sustainable competency.
Working for Women’s Empowerment
A UNICEF study on girls’ education in South Asia has noted: “Promoting girls’ education has been a priority in India for over a century, but discrepancies still persist in learning opportunities.” According to this study, public education for rural and poor girls and women basically aims to acquire literacy and numeracy, while superior schools are beyond their reach. It has noted further: “Only limited learning opportunities in rural public schools are left for girls from poor and deprived families.” The report raises the issue on quality of girls’ education, since access to education for them is not an issue. Therefore, something concrete needs to be done for women’s education in India. Besides what our Government is doing in this regard, I feel it is our social responsibility to see that the benefit of such benevolent schemes reach the desired sections of our society. At ICAI, we provide equal opportunity to the women of our society, whether it is about education or employment. The growing number of female members and students, and their better performance over the years in the recent past are evidences of our women-friendly policies and endeavours. I personally feel, since women in our country have long been denied their dues, it is time to render special attention to them. You will be pleased to know that more than 20% members and more than 34% students at present in our profession are female. When the Companies Bill, 2012 provides for at least one woman director in prescribed class or classes of companies, I would urge our female members to equip themselves with necessary skills so that they would be able to take on the desired responsibility in a befitting manner. Let all our members pledge to help the Government and the society to get the desired results in this regard.
ICAI Heads QARC-SEBI
To improve the quality of financial reporting by listed entities, SEBI had constituted the Qualified Audit Review Committee (QARC) to review the qualified annual audit reports. As per the circular, the Financial Reporting Review Board (FRRB) of ICAI had been asked to assess the materiality of qualification contained in auditor’s report, based on which QARC may even direct the entity to restate its books of accounts. I am happy to announce that the ICAI representative has been made the head of this Committee that has representatives from BSE, NSE, MCX and SEBI also.
CAPA/SAFA Events in Kolkata
I am happy to announce that ICAI would be hosting CAPA events in Kolkata on November 19th-20th, 2013, and SAFA events on November 21th, 2013, while the International Conference on Accountancy Profession: Emerging Frontiers of Future Growth is being hosted by the ICAI in the same city on November 22th-23th, 2013.
It is satisfying for me to acknowledge that the Chartered Accountants Benevolent Fund (CABF) has received a total contribution of 85,58,127 since February 2nd, 2013, of which the contribution of 13,97,127 is voluntary, and this is more encouraging for me and my profession. You will be pleased to know that we have already processed the amount of 85,13,500 as financial assistance to the families of deceased members of the Institute during the period. In order to continue to extend help to the families of our deceased members in need, it is necessary that our contribution to the fund should not be stopped.
I am happy to inform our students that as part of the Action Plan 2013-14, we have been organising subject-specific live webcasts for our students. We are also planning to organise webcasts in subjects where the candidates did not perform well in the recent examinations. I am confident that such a move would help the students on an all- India basis to improve their performance considerably in the forthcoming examinations. I would earnestly request all our members to inform their articled assistants and other CA students about this initiative of ICAI and encourage them to make greater use of this facility. We are also organising webcasts on various topics for the benefit of our members.
Professional Strength and Growth
We have always been concerned about our global intellectual positioning. I want my alma mater to be known for its intellectual and technical strength. Our curriculum has to be globally more competitive. Our representations on international forums like IFAC, CAPA, SAFA, XBRL International and AOSSG (Asian-Oceanian Standard-Setter Group) have been helping us in understanding the curve of desired development. I am glad to inform that the total membership strength has gone up to 2,23,390 as on August 15th, 2013, in comparison to 1,92,513 as on 1st April 2012, i.e. an addition of 30,877 members during 2012-13, indicating a growth of around 16.04%. There are 55,944 CA firms registered with us as on August 15th, 2013, which include 16,566 partnership firms and 39,378 proprietary firms. It is again creditable that some 11,47,086 students are registered with the Institute as on August 15th, 2013. After the recent recognitions from IIT Madras, Central University of Jharkhand, Dr. D. Y. Patil Vidyapeeth of Pune and Banasthali University of Jaipur with regard to Chartered Accountants’ eligibility to pursue PhDs, CAs today can opt to pursue PhD programmes from an institution of their choice from a total of 101 institutions now, i.e. 94 Universities, 6 IIMs and IIT Madras.
We are grateful to our nation for taking an increasingly encouraging participative interest in our profession. From our side, in response, we are taking effective measures to provide the best possible professional education, training and opportunities to our members and students.
I wish everybody a very happy Teachers’ Day that we celebrate on September 5th every year while remembering our great teacher-philosopher and second President of India Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, who was born on this day. Festivals that promote togetherness in society are relevant beyond time and space. Eid is one of those festivals. I hope you must have celebrated Eid in its true spirit.
In order to connect with members of other professions in particular and our society in general, we had expressed our desire that the prototypes of our Accountancy Museum of India should be installed at offices of the ICAI across the nation, so that our society comes to know how accountants as a professional community have contributed to the financial operations of our nation in various ways. This step will also bring our stakeholders together and, thus, create a force to reckon with. Therefore, we are going ahead with the installation of prototypes of the Accountancy Museum at more branches of the Institute. We had initially set prototypes at all our Regional Councils and Decentralised Offices. In the next phase, we have started the process to install them at 25 more Branches of the Institute. Members of the Institute are invited to visit the Regional Councils and Branches to get a glimpse of the Accountancy Museum of India, i.e. prototype of the Museum.
While acting as a united professional force, I can proudly say that we have raised about 69,00,000 towards our contribution for the Uttarakhand flood relief, which we will deposit in the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund. I also take pride in sharing information with you that one of our foreign chapters, i.e. Abu Dhabi Chapter of ICAI, has contributed about 4,50,000 for this cause. Our profession is playing a vital role today. With uncompromising dedication and selflessness, and without caring for powers, we aim to continue working for the development of our nation in every possible way.
CA. Subodh Kumar Agrawal