My dear professional colleagues,
I feel extremely privileged to take over as 65th President of ICAI, in the 68th year of its glorious existence and recognition. Realising my increased involvement in the affairs of my dear profession, I feel humbled, as nothing could be more satisfying in the career of a professional than serving his/her alma-mater and that also as its President. I take this opportunity to extend my warm wishes to my professional colleagues, and all other stakeholders of the profession.
It is undoubtedly a great honour for me to be blessed with a unique opportunity of serving the single largest statutory, accounting & auditing, and professional body of the world that was set up by an Act (i.e. Chartered Accountants Act, 1949) of the Indian Parliament, just two years after India got independence and one year before, we got our own Constitution.
I also extend my sincere thanks to all my Council Colleagues for electing me as President of this illustrious Institution and heartiest gratitude to the founding fathers of this profession and my predecessors, as well. I also extend my sincere thanks, through this Page, being my first communiqué, to all my professional friends and well wishers of the ICAI and I will continue to seek their support and cooperation for the growth and development of our profession and the Institute.
Before I proceed further I would like to thank our immediate past President and my Council colleague CA. M. Devaraja Reddy with a promise that we will work around the vision with which he had flagged the Council’s journey last year and achieved many significant milestones taking the profession and the Institute to newer and greater heights. He and his straightforward approach in the professional issues has inspired all of us. Our stakeholders will agree that our synced efforts have helped in effecting an enviable position for the profession. I am to pass a great test, to meet his expectations from my ability that he fondly mentioned in the February 2017 issue of this Journal: I have complete trust in the incumbent leadership of my Council colleague CA. Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey. The profession is bound to grow to further pinnacles under his able vision and leadership, as well as the expectations of my professional colleagues at large. May God give me vigour and wisdom to steer the profession further and fulfill the expectations of all!
Encouraging Response from Ministries and Other Government Offices
While I take pride in the confidence that society and government repose in us, I am also fully aware of our responsibilities as a Partner-in-Nation Building that come along. I conveyed the same feeling to our Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, Union Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Shri Arjun Ram Meghwal, Secretary Ministry of Corporate Affairs Shri Tapan Ray, senior officials of MCA, Deputy C&AG Shri P. Mukherjee, C&AG Director-General (Commercial) and my Council colleague Shri V. Kurian, whom I met recently after taking over as President. I felt highly encouraged at the meetings, and I assure to provide our support to the ‘reform agenda’ of the Government for leapfrogging the nation. I also look forward to continue getting the Government’s guidance and trust to the accountancy profession in India.
CA. Suresh Prabhu puts ‘Profession First’ at ICAI’s 67th Annual Function
“I am CA first and then a Minister,”declared the Union Railways Minister CA. Suresh Prabhu, taking pride in being a professional, as the Chief Guest of our well attended 67th Annual Function held in New Delhi recently. Speaking high of his professional fraternity and reiterating his full confidence in the Indian accounting profession, he called upon the chartered accountants to become the leaders of new economic architecture of India. Let me inform you, our own Prime Minister while addressing recently in the Parliament in the context of benami transaction law has expressed his faith in the Chartered Accountants, and asked everyone to take advice of the Chartered Accountants.
Enthused and honoured by the words of praise and acknowledgement for our profession by Hon’ble Prime Minister and Union Railways Minister, I commit on behalf of the CA fraternity to play our role as trustee of stakeholders’ interest and continue to render quality services to the society and the nation. A detailed report in this regard has been printed elsewhere in this Journal.
Our New Vice-President
I take this opportunity to congratulate my visionary colleague CA. Naveen N. D. Gupta on his election as Vice President of the Institute for the Council Year 2017-18. I am confident that his rich experience, professional acumen and abilities will greatly benefit the members at large, and also help me in shouldering my responsibilities. I know him as an energetic young professional, a dedicated hard-worker bestowed with exceptional leadership skills and a futuristic vision.
Be a follower first to emerge as a good leader, goes a saying; I would be privileged to be guided and follow the path treaded by my predecessors to keep the ICAI flag flying high. Great philosopher and kingmaker Kautilya had stated: ...the leader of any organisation should be able to maintain high standards while running an organisation. If the king is energetic, his subject will be equally energetic. He also stated: Yatha raja, thatha praja (as a king is, so will be his people, i.e. followers). I assure to practice good governance all along.
My focus during the year would be on timely and proper implementation of the three-year (i.e. 2016- 19)Action Plan, finalised by the Council and ensuring all round success of our profession and securing stakeholders’ satisfaction. Specifically, the twin letters ‘CA’ signify the symbol of trust and require all of us to discharge our duties with utmost care and caution as the society considers our profession as that of conscience keepers.
As partner-in-nation-building, our priority will be to provide extensive, qualitative and timely support to the government and related stakeholders for smooth implementation of the Goods and Services Tax. This year we will take all our efforts, jointly with the government, to increase the taxpayer base of the country.
I look forward to enhancing the capacity, growth and quality of the profession through technology, research, knowledge, infrastructure and practical support to bring about greater integration of Indian accountancy professionals with global imperatives. I wish to expedite the process of making CAs unrivalled professionals both nationally and internationally. With that bigger objective in view, we are soon going to launch the new scheme of education and training.
Another area of strategic priority will be our members-whether they are in practice, in industry or in government, with the focus on tapping the emerging opportunities in these times of change. Enhancement and empowerment of SMPs will be at the core of my all inclusive growth agenda. Bringing in best HR practices in the Institute will be another agenda for me.
All this will need a collective pursuit for continuous improvement. This pursuit will further strengthen the sense of US. Yes, together, WE CAN. Before I touch upon certain specific points, let me remind you that the business world is passing through a phase of change and challenge, and we all need to advance towards the professional transformation.
Now let me share with you some significant professional developments of the last one month:
A Growth-inducing Union Budget 2017-18
Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley has presented a progressive and growth-oriented Union Budget 2017-18, which, I am sure, will pave the way for emergence of a strong rural-social sector, infrastructure sector, finance sector and an overall economically vibrant India with enhanced ease of doing business. The Budget proposals will not only support the small taxpayers but will also counter tax evasion. On behalf of the CA fraternity, I extend my whole-hearted support to the economic targets of the Government and commit to use our resources, skills and professional competence in achieving the set goals of this year’s Union Budget.
- Minister of State for Finance, top bureaucrats Praise ICAI at Conclave on Budget: As part of our continuous mission to keep our members abreast with the latest professional developments, we organised an ICAI Conclave on Union Budget 2017 on various tax proposals immediately after its presentation. Minister of State for Finance Shri Santosh Kumar Gangwar graced the occasion as Chief Guest, accompanied by Revenue Secretary Shri Hasmukh Adhia, CBDT Chairman Shri Sushil Chandra, and CBEC Member (Budget & GST) Shri Ram Tirath. The dignitaries appreciated ICAI’s backing and facilitating role in Government’s anti-black money drive, particularly in making IDS Scheme 2016 a big success besides proactively supporting in administration and collection of direct and indirect taxes.
- ICAI Proposals Incorporated in Finance Bill, 2016: As per our regular practice, we had submitted Pre-Budget Memoranda to the Ministry of Finance to put forward our proposals. I am extremely happy to share with you that, like every year, many of our proposals were considered and incorporated in the Finance Bill, 2017. A detailed report on those incorporated suggestions has been published in this Journal.
- Post Budget Memorandum: In line with our practice, we have done a detailed analysis of the budget proposals on all taxation aspects and submitted the Post-Budget Memorandum to the Government. Among other things, we are of the firm view that the proposal levying penalty of Rs. 10,000 for furnishing incorrect information in certificates/reports furnished by CAs under the Income-tax Act, 1961 needs to be revisited and reconsidered because it is well acknowledged that the CA community has always been competently and diligently discharging its professional obligations with due care. I am sure the Government will find our Memorandum valuable and worth considering.
ICAI-PIOB Joint Stakeholders’ Conclave in New Delhi
As you may be aware, we recently organised the ICAI-PIOB Joint Stakeholders’ Conclave in New Delhi, in association with Public Interest Oversight Board (PIOB)-the global independent oversight body that seeks to improve the quality and public interest focus of the international standards formulated by the Standard Setting Boards supported by IFAC in the areas of audit and assurance, education, and ethics.
The Conclave, inaugurated by its Chief Guest the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG) of India Shri Shashi Kant Sharma together with his Deputy C&AG (Commercial and Chairperson, Audit Board) Shri H. Pradeep Rao, former SEBI Chairman and PIOB member Shri Chandrasekhar Bhaskar Bhave, PIOB Chairman Mr. Eddy Wymeersch, ICAI's immediate past President CA. M. Devaraja Reddy and myself, dealt with the role of PIOB and the challenges of accountancy profession, underlining a need for stricter compliance and implementation of best practices in safeguarding public interest. It also discussed how ICAI could assist the PIOB in capacity-building in other countries that lacked good financial practices and auditing system.
ICAI at IAASB Working Conference Held in Paris
Recently, I along with my Central Council colleague CA. Shyam Lal Agarwal, attended the two-day IAASB Working Conference held in Paris, which was supported by the French professional bodies Conseil Supérieur de l’Ordre des Experts-Comptables (CSOEC) and the Compagnie Nationale des Commissaires aux Comptes (CNCC). Being a panelist on a session called ISAs-Challenges in Auditing SMEs, I presented a paper titled, Understanding the Use of ISAs in Difference Jurisdictions and Specific Challenges Facing SMPs in Audits of SMEs, which was well-received by the participants of the Conference. There, I also attended the meeting of Edinburgh Group.
Leading personalities as Independent Directors on IIIPI Board
Our Indian Institute of Insolvency Professionals of ICAI (IIIPI), a Section 8 Company formed as an Insolvency Professionals Agency, has added more strength with five leading personalities agreeing to be Independent Directors on the Board of IIIPI. These include Shri I. Y. R. Krishna Rao, former Andhra Pradesh Chief Secretary, Mr. Justice Anil R. Dave, former Judge of Supreme Court of India, Shri M. Damodaran, former SEBI and UTI Chief, Shri M. D. Mallya, former CMD Bank of Baroda, Shri B. M. Mohapatra, former RBI Executive Director. I am sure our IIIPI will immensely gain from their rich professional experience.
New Kadapa Branch of SIRC Notified
Taking our drive to expand our network and reach one step ahead, we have recently notified Kadapa Branch of Southern India Regional Council with effect from 8th February 2017. The jurisdiction of this new Branch shall cover whole district of Kadapa in the State of Andhra Pradesh. With this, the tally of ICAI’s Branches stands at 163.
2017 Edition of Guidance Note on Audit of Banks
By now, most of you would be giving final touches to your plans and strategy for performing the important assignment of Bank Branch Audit. Confident of you performing this nationally important job diligently, I wish you all the best for a timely and effective completion of the audit. In this regard, we have also come out with a revised 2017 edition of Guidance Note on Audit of Banks. I request all concerned to make best use of this Guidance Note, which covers many new aspects of Bank Audit tasks, particularly in the wake of demonetisation.
Latest Developments on GST
It is welcome that the Centre intends to take GST legislations to Parliament in the second half of the Budget Session to facilitate targeted roll out from 1st July this year. We at the ICAI are very much alive to this emerging scenario in the role of a facilitator. We have recently submitted our suggestions on Revised Model GST Law to CBEC. We also recently released several related publications, including Background Material on Revised Model GST Law, Simplified GST guide for Manufacturers, Study Paper on taxation of e-commerce transactions under GST, FAQs/MCQs on Revised Model GST Law, and Study Paper on Unjust Enrichment. Further, a series of Live Webcasts on various aspects of GST have been lined up for this month. I call upon you to participate in these webcasts to have a unique learning experience.
Agreement with Indian Railways Boosts our Accrual Accounting Drive
I am happy to inform that our role in nationally important accrual accounting drive got a boost when our ICAI Accounting Research Foundation signed an agreement with Indian Railways for the roll out of accrual accounting in 17 Zonal Railways, 8 Production Units and other offices spread across the country. Myself, the Vice President and Financial Commissioner of Indian Railways Shri Shahzad Shah were present, among others, on the occasion.
Meanwhile all the deliverables for the RCF, Kapurthala Project have also entered the last phase of discussion and the said project will also be closed shortly. This is further to the closure of Indian Railways’ North Western Zonal Railway Project at Jaipur. All these headways have taken our association with Indian Railways as a partner in Nation Building to a new level.
C&AG Decides Favourably on ICAI Representation
It is my pleasure to inform you that pursuant to our representation, the C&AG has informed that it has been decided to relax the stipulation of 100% as indicated in Clause 6(a) of terms and conditions of appointment of auditors, for the PSUs for the first financial year for which the PSUs are required to prepare Ind AS compliant Financial Statements. Necessary relaxation will, however, be granted by the Office of CAG on case to case basis on receipt of specific request from the PSU concerned.
Before I conclude, let me share with you my firm belief that whatever good or bad you do, comes back to you in this very world in all its varied manifestations. As such we must do only good to our profession, our ethical values, our society and the nation. I wish to re-emphasise that a Chartered Accountant must be committed to lifetime of learning, and to change with times. In the times of change, it is the learners who inherit the future.
Let me also take this opportunity to extend my warm wishes to all members on the occasion of Holi in advance. May a variety of colours make your life all the more colourful and happy! May this festival bring more joy to your life!
CA. Nilesh S. Vikamsey