My dear professional colleagues,
It is a privilege for me to be the 69th President of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and I thank my Council colleagues for reposing confidence in me and electing me as President. I also thank the members for electing me to the Council for three times with good number of votes. ICAI holds to its name, years-long legacy of astounding supremacy, excellent superintendence and strong oversight mechanism accompanied by firm action; the blend of which has helped it overcome barriers, attain social prestige and take the profession to extraordinary heights. I pray to Almighty to give me enough abilities, strength and patience to take this profession to still superior pedestal and prove worthy of the confidence that my council colleagues and members at large have placed in me.
ICAI has had the privilege to grow under the leaders who stand strong in the face of adversity, possess the courage to make tough decisions and the compassion to empathise the challenges. It is the irreplaceable contributions of our former leaders that have built the unshakeable precedence for integrity and brilliance at ICAI and led to its phenomenal growth. As we unfold another chapter in the ICAI history with the beginning of new Council year, I express heartfelt gratitude to our immediate past president CA. Atul Kumar Gupta who with his astute leadership and pioneering guidance further strengthened the foundation of our institution.
After all, it is rightly remarked that one voice can change the room and one good leader can inspire the success of an entire organisation. Albeit the numerous obstacles presented by the year 2020, ICAI under fierce counsel of immediate past president with active support of the entire Council rose to every challenge, sought dynamic solutions and evolved and adapted its way to a successful year.
In the forthcoming Council Year, I wish to closely work with the new ICAI Vice President CA. (Dr.) Debashis Mitra and other colleagues and look forward to their insightful knowledge, long experience, and dedicated leadership to serve the profession. “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much” said Helen Keller. ICAI council, consisting of 32 elected and 8 nominated representatives is the main thinktank that serves the needs of the various stakeholders of the accounting profession. I wish to harness their energies to serve the profession to the best of my abilities. In the words of first ICAI president CA. G.P. Kapadia – “The Act gives the Profession the largest possible measure of autonomy and irrespective of the expression of individual opinions as to the whole Council being an elected one, I would certainly say that the presence of Government nominees and the representatives of commerce on a body like this, has been found to be extremely helpful. With a large number of elected representatives of the members of the profession itself, a small element of nomination gives a closer contact to the profession with Government as well as commercial interests.”
ICAI - A true Partner in Nation Building
ICAI, being a true Partner in Nation Building, has always collaborated with various initiatives of Governmental organisations and Regulatory bodies for facilitating the implementation of various policies and measures directed towards development of the economy. We feel that an educative drive in the country particularly for the MSMEs who sometimes falter out of ignorance or absence of professional advice will be a big service not just to business community but also to the nation and can be a great catalyst for change and make India Aatmanirbhar.
Literacy in the financial matters empowers us in the present complex commercial world. Education in financial matters including those related to accounting and taxation can empower individuals and businesses alike. Post pandemic, the expectations of the government, business and society from Chartered Accountants have grown manifold. As part of its agenda, the Institute would work on developing material in layman’s language and also a website for disseminating knowledge on financial and tax literacy and would conduct training programs for general public and society at large.
Public Advocacy: Assisting Government in Matters of Governance
In the direction of improved governance, out of many initiatives that have been planned this year, we look forward to setting up a group on public advocacy. When there are new laws to be introduced or when existing laws are sought to be amended, ICAI will provide its advice and support to the government. These inputs based on practical experience will be very helpful. We are envisaging that at the enactment stage itself, through these public advocacy groups, we can point out the hurdles and suggest possible solutions. It will help the government frame laws which are user and economy friendly.
Developing Profession for the Digital Era
The Institute has always been keen towards adapting and upgrading the skills of professionals in tune with changing requirements in terms of technological advancements and digital transformation. The manner in which artificial intelligence, robotics processes and data analytics are taking over, it is pertinent for our members to be on top of technology as without it, it would not be possible to serve the clients effectively and efficiently. In the recent past, through the formation of Digital Accounting and Assurance Board, development of the Digital Learning Hub, Digital Competency Maturity Model, and Self Service Portal we have progressed well and developed the necessary digital infrastructure to bring transformational change for the new age professionals. Continuing further we will ensure that the profession is suitably skilled for the new age societal requirements such as forensics, data mining and artificial intelligence.
Expanding Big, Going Global
Besides the above, One thing that will remain high on the agenda will be growth of the Indian Accountancy Firms. We are proposing to set up a task force within the ICAI to promote mergers and networking with the Indian and International accounting firms. With the new guidelines for the networking and Multi- Disciplinary Partnership (MDP) will be in place, soon, we are expecting enhanced activities within the Indian CA firms to become big and truly global, and I hope that Indian accountancy profession will provide Global Leadership like we are doing in other sectors of economy.
The World is our Village
Accounting and finance is one of the twelve champion services sector that the Indian Government is focusing to boost India’s growth to next level. Members of Indian accounting profession have significant technical competence that is of substantial use by the businesses in India as well as by businesses globally. Many of our members are working hard and excelling in foreign jurisdictions to achieve success and bring laurels to the country. ICAI is also facilitating their cause by creating suitable structures across the world.
In its endeavor of expanding its global outreach and getting foothold in African regions, the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) has taken membership of Pan African Federation of Accountants (PAFA) which would enable ICAI to connect closely with the professional organisations based in African countries and also to promote such initiatives of ICAI which are of global relevance with PAOs in these jurisdictions.
Established in 2011, PAFA is a non-profit organisation currently with 55 Professional Accountancy Organisations (PAOs) from 44 African countries. Its mission is to accelerate and strengthen the voice and capacity of the Accountancy profession to work in the public interest, facilitate trade, and enhance benefits and quality services to Africa’s citizens. This development will certainly help the further development of the accountancy profession in that part of the world and create more recognition and professional opportunities for the members.
ICAI and Certified Practising Accountants (CPA) PNG signed the technical co-operation agreement pursuant to the approval of the Union Cabinet of India. The objective of this MoU is to establish mutual co-operation between CPA PNG and ICAI for the advancement of accounting knowledge, professional and intellectual development, advancing the interests of their respective members and positively contributing to the development of the accounting profession in Papua New Guinea and India.
Virtual launch of Washington D.C. Chapter
The 39th Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Washington D.C. Chapter of ICAI was inaugurated on February 6, 2021. The event witnessed the presence of H.E. Taranjit Singh Sandhu, Ambassador of India for Washington D.C., USA as the Chief Guest and Maryland State Senator, Mr. James C. Rosapepe as the Guest of Honour.
International Affairs Policy of ICAI
ICAI’s continuous endeavour to expand our global reach and evolve as ‘Chartered Accountants for a global economy’ has necessitated for a comprehensive International Affairs Policy which shall enable us to build legacy of excellence globally for the profession. ICAI has expanded its footprints to 64 cities of the world and endeavours to reach 100 cities soon along with developing the ‘Indian Chartered Accountancy’ as a truly global brand at International level.
The ICAI has accordingly developed a comprehensive and holistic International Affairs Policy document which envisions to position ICAI as a highly-valued accountancy body globally which would enable us to enhance the regional and global visibility and increase global mobility of our members. The same was released at the august hands of Shri V. Muraleedharan, Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs. While releasing the document he stated that – “The International Affairs Policy of ICAI aims to develop Indian CAs as a truly global brand at international level. It envisions positioning ICAI as a highly valued accountancy body globally and enhancing global visibility, increasing global mobility and contributing to the development of Indian economy as a whole.”
International Curriculum of ICAI
Hon’ble Minister of State for External Affairs also released the International curriculum of ICAI. It is an effort to achieve the Government’s objective of internationalisation of higher education as enshrined in the National Education Policy, 2020 as also to partner the Government’s efforts in facilitating and supporting the economic growth of developing nations by imparting professional accountancy education to students of such countries (which do not have a national professional accountancy organization of their own).
ITAT holds its first bench at Jammu ICAI Premises
Earlier, ICAI extended its infrastructure for conducting camp hearings of ITAT at ICAI branches & offices across the country including Srinagar & Ladakh offices. The First Camp Bench of ITAT in the premises of ICAI was inaugurated by Hon’ble Justice Sh. P. P. Bhatt, President, ITAT in Jammu in the presence of Sh. N.K. Saini, Hon’ble Vice-President, ITAT, Sh. (CA.) G.S. Pannu, Hon’ble Vice-President, ITAT, CA. Atul Kumar Gupta, then President ICAI, Smt. Poonam Sidhu (IRS), Chief Commissioner of Income Tax, and Sh. R.L. Negi, Hon’ble Judicial Member, ITAT. The leading Members of the Bar, both CAs and Lawyers appeared before the camp benches and a significant number of old appeals were disposed off. Incidentally this camp bench was held after a gap of almost five years and it was wholeheartedly welcomed by the tax payers, tax professionals as well as the Income Tax Department.
ICAI ARF - Accounts Assistant Scheme
In another attempt to partner in nation building and contribute towards Skill Development to make youth employable through imparting skill sets in the subject of Accounting, Tax Compliances & related topics, a pilot project of ICAI Accounting Research Foundation (ARF) - Accounts Assistant Scheme was launched by Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs. This pilot project is a step towards sustainable skill development of the local youth and make them readily employable locally. Complimenting ICAI, the Hon’ble Minister said “As this Scheme is being monitored & evaluated by ICAI, the premier accountancy body of India, it has more credibility and the students who will clear this scheme shall get the chance to intern with experienced CAs, organisations etc. The experience gained by the students would help them to get jobs locally & through ICAI job portal, they will have ample career opportunities.” We are truly honoured with the gracious presence of Hon’ble Minister in ICAI headquarters, New Delhi for this launch.
71st Annual Function of ICAI
The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) celebrated its 71st Annual Function on February 9, 2021 in Gurugram with great vigour and enthusiasm. The event was graced by Shri (CA.) Arun Singh, Hon’ble Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) as Chief Guest, Central and Regional Council Members of ICAI and office bearers of several branches. Amidst social distancing, many members, students and other stakeholders were physically present at the event with many more who attended virtually. The event recognized achievements by the meritorious CA students, outstanding Regional Councils, Branches and Overseas Chapters who were conferred awards for their extraordinary accomplishments. The detailed report of the Annual Function is published elsewhere in the journal for reader’s reference.
Residential Meet of CA Members in Public Service
The Committee for Members in Entrepreneurship and Public Service of ICAI organised a Residential Meet of CA Members in Public Service from 29th -31st January 2021 in Goa. The Residential Meet was attended by 56 Members in Public Service from various fields of Politics, Judiciary, IAS, IPS, IFS, IRS, ITAT and other Government departments. The Meet was inaugurated at the august hands of Chief Guest CA. Piyush Goyal, Hon’ble Minister of Railways and Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food & Public Distribution, Government of India (through video mode). Hon’ble Minister in his Special Address reiterated that the Chartered Accountant fraternity plays a significant role in the Nation building. He emphasised that ICAI should encourage more and more Chartered Accountants to enter Public Service to serve the Nation. The Residential Meet was also graced by Special Address by Guests of Honours namely CA. Suresh P. Prabhu, MP and Prime Minister’s Sherpa to G7 and G20, CA. Thomas Chazhikadan, MP, CA. Subhash Chandra Baheria, MP and CA. Raghav Chadha, MLA, Delhi and Dr. Kirit Somaiya, Former MP. The Residential meet was also attended by Justice CA. Anil R. Dave, Former Judge, Supreme Court, Justice Dr. Vineet Kothari, Senior Most Judge of Gujarat High Court, Justice CA. Bhargav D Karia, Judge, Gujarat High Court, Justice CA. Dinesh Mehta, Judge, Rajasthan High Court and CA. Jayawanth L., Additional District & Sessions Judge, Thiruvanthapuram who dwelled upon the mechanisms for improvement in the disciplinary system at ICAI.
Incessant Quest for Professional Knowledge
The whole ecosystem of standards, laws, practices and standards in the Accounting Profession is dynamic, complex and intriguing. ICAI, on one hand, creates new knowledge in the form of standards and guidance notes and on the other hand, disseminates knowledge to the professionals. Some of the important knowledge based initiatives of ICAI taken recently are listed below:
Guidance Note on Accrual Basis of Accounting
- Guidance Note on Accounting by E-commerce Entities
- Exposure Drafts of Amendments to Ind AS for comments
- Exposure Draft of Guidance Note on Audit of Banks, 2021 edition issued by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board
- Exposure Draft of Regulatory Assets and Regulatory Liabilities
- Exposure Draft of Standards for Audit of Smaller and Less Complex Entities issued by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board
Members may find the above and many other educative documents released recently under the link http://icai.org/category/announcements. ICAI and its various committees regularly release knowledge enriching information directed to assist members in their professional journey. In the overall interest of the profession, you are welcome to give your views and your ideas and experience which are highly critical for finalisation of exposure drafts.
Last year was an unprecedented year earmarked for the magnitude of change it brought to the world as we knew it; the subsiding ripples of the shockwaves it sent to the economy can still be felt. However, with circumstances slowly taking a turn for the better, now is the time to act quickly yet carefully, and undertake actions that can unanimously undo the ruin caused by the pandemic and attend to the residual damage to the economy. It is imperative to be optimistic, patient and persistent in our toil towards restabilising the economy and fuelling the wheel of growth once again.
In the post COVID scenario, Corporate Social responsibility has become an important tool to provide necessary support to the needy. It has become important that CSR Funds are duly utilised and their benefits are actually reached to the beneficiaries/ activities for which these funds have been set aside or released. For the purpose, during the year we gave emphasis on the importance of the CSR Audit and compliance with the government norms. During the year moving forward, my focus will be on ISR i.e. Individual Social Responsibility where each and every person will be sensitized about his/her Social responsibility so that Nation is benefited from the collective efforts and contribution of all. We all individuals collectively form society, and when individuals become aware about their responsibilities, society as a whole gets benefited.
Ebbs and flows are part of the cycle of life, what is important is to not be discouraged by resistance. Nelson Mandela once remarked, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” I look forward to the members of accounting profession, that is you, to work passionately in the best interest of business and society. We hope, this year would be a year of resilience and positive growth.
I extend my best wishes to you and your families for a very bright and joyful Holi.
CA. Nihar N. Jambusaria