President's Message - October 2010
Water, water, everywhere, And all the boards did shrink; Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink.
18th century English poet S. T. Coleridge, in the above lines, has represented the current situation in some of the densely-populated regions of our country. It has rained more than our needs this year. Hundreds of acres of land across our country have got submerged under water. Hundreds of kilometers of our roads have been washed away. Hundreds of people have been displaced, stuck and stranded, and rendered helpless. No real data is available on the destruction of human life. Immediate concern at present is to safeguard our human resources. Let us accept that we have added to the misery by eroding our own earth and destroying its vegetation on a mass scale. Actually, we have grown high in number. Couldnt we have controlled this eventuality? Our world is small and round: our irresponsibility comes back to us.
What can we do when things go out of our hands? No, nothing goes out of our hands ever. Therefore, time is always right to take a corrective measure. Let us deliberate, share our ideas and concerns, and cooperate towards the welfare of state.
International Initiatives and Concerns
MRA with CPA, Ireland: We are delighted to inform that our Institute has signed recently its fourth membership recognition MRA with CPA Ireland for reciprocal recognition of each others qualification on a variable bridging mechanism. The agreement was signed on the sidelines of the IFAC Board meeting which took place in Paris. The MRA was signed in the presence of Mr. Robert Bunting, President, IFAC and CA. Ved Jain, Past President, ICAI and IFAC Board Member. The agreement will come into force w.e.f. October 1, 2010. We sincerely hope that our members would be benefited from this MRA. We have also initiated steps for having similar arrangements with the accountancy institutes of other countries like Canada, New Zealand and South Africa.
MoU with Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE: We would like to inform that the MoU with the Higher Colleges of Technology, UAE, pending on account of clearance from the Government authorities, has now got the clearance. The formal signing of the MoU is awaited.
New ICAI Chapter in UAE: We are very pleased to share that the 22nd Chapter of the Institute at Ras Al Khaimah in the Middle East has been added in the list of existing international Chapters. The formal inauguration ceremony of the Chapter would be held after the completion of procedural formalities at their end.
International Seminar on CSR in Dubai: The undersigned attended a seminar in Dubai on Corporate Social Responsibility for Finance and Accounting Professionals on September 5, 2010, organised by Dubai Chapter of the ICAI in partnership with the Dubai Chamber Centre for Responsible Business as an effort towards raising awareness on responsible business practices, and shared the ICAIs commitment towards CSR with the participants. The seminar was attended by Shri M. K. Lokesh, Ambassador of India to UAE, Mr Hassan Al Hashemi, Director, External Relations, Dubai Chamber, Padamshree Dr. B. R. Shetty, Managing Director and CEO, NMC Group and Dr. Belaid Rettab, Sr. Director, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The undersigned informed the participants about the ICAIs CSR initiatives like Go-Green campaign and Carbon Credit Accounting Sustainability Reporting, and mentioned that the ICAI endeavours to help its members maintain and adhere to its Ethical Standards, and also shared cases of some Indian Companies like WIPRO, Tata, Birla, etc., who have been committed to CSR even before they became global.
ICAI Participation in IFAC Board Meeting: The undersigned attended the IFAC Board meeting along with ICAI past-President and Member IFAC Board CA. Ved Jain, during September 8-10, 2010. We discussed the strategic plans of the IFAC focusing on quality and development. During the meeting, the Exposure Draft on Public Interest framework was discussed. While expressing the Indian concerns, we expressed our interest in becoming the associate member of International Valuation Standard Council (IVSC) particularly in view of the IFRS implementation. The undersigned, in response to the presentation made by the Forum of Firms, raised the issue of monitoring by the Forum with respect to the firms that were involved in the audit of an entity involved in scam. It was clarified that the Forum does not have any mechanism for policing or taking action against a firm or its partners. This position raises concerns and needs to be re-looked by the Forum.
ICAI Representation in Working Group on PAIB Review: The undersigned also attended the Edinburgh Group meeting coinciding with the IFAC Board meeting, where, besides the key issues of SMPs, communication strategy paper for the Group was discussed. The Group also met the IFAC leadership to discuss the SMP Task Force Report and other operational issues. It set up a Working Group on PAIB (Professional Accountants in Business) Review to develop agenda items on the PAIB issues. Ms. Marta Rejman, Member of IFAC Board, Ingrid Doegra and the undersigned would be the members of the said Working Group.
ICAI Meets ICAEW: The undersigned along with the Vice-President CA. G. Ramaswamy met the President, ICAEW, on September 14, 2010, in London to augment and further strengthen the MRA between the two Institutes. Acting Chairman of the London Chapter of ICAI was also present. We discussed our interest in ICAEWs IFRS certificate course, e-learning modules on IFRS, the literature on Strategic Finance. We clarified that we can not recognise the members of ICAEW through the route of ACCA till the said body stops setting up its shops in India. Issue of equivalence of qualifications amongst the six accounting bodies in Great Britain, e.g. ICAS, ICAI, CIPFA, CIMA, etc., who are authorised to carry out the public accountancy function was discussed. The same aspect was also conveyed to the Indo-UK Accountancy Task Force authorities afterwards. We informed them that Indian students are being tested under case study situation and that papers on case study to be undertaken by our CAs should be reviewed. The two sides agreed in principle to encourage the members of respective institute to take a membership under the existing MRA.
Auditing and Accounting History Conference in Turkey: The undersigned along with the Vice-President CA. G. Ramaswamy and Director, Board of Studies, Shri Vijay Kapur participated in the 2nd Balkans and Middle East Countries Auditing and Accounting History Conference held in Istanbul from September 15-18, 2010. The undersigned also had the privilege to Chair one of the sessions on Internal Auditing. Approximately 600 academics from 55 countries participated and contributed 240 papers for discussion. We could showcase our country, particularly with regard to our Accountancy Museum of India. The same was well-covered in the media.
ICAI Helps CPA Mongolia: Council Members, CA. Charanjot Singh Nanda and CA. Vijay Garg have been deputed to visit Mangolia shortly for an interaction with CPA Mongolia. As CPA Mangolia is aspiring for attaining IFAC membership which would involve technical cooperation in making them compliant with IFAC SMOs, the assistance of ICAI has been sought in this matter.
International Conference on Accountancy in January 2011: We are pleased to share with you that we will organise an international conference during January 4-6, 2011, in New Delhi, to be attended by prominent personalities from accountancy profession of different parts of the world. Over 1500 stakeholders, specifically from Asia-Pacific region, will participate in it. The Conference will facilitate an assimilation of resources in areas of financial reengineering, governance, harmonization of standards, SMP context, accountants and millennium developmental goals and so on, in the emerging context. The schedule of the conference will soon be finalised.
ICAI in WTO Public Forum: Our Central Council colleague CA. Raj Kumar Adukia with Shri Rakesh Sehgal, Secretary, Committee on Economic & Commercial Laws and Trade & WTO, represented us in the WTO Public Forum, The Forces Shaping World Trade held in Geneva from September 15 to 17, 2010. The Forum was attended by nearly 800 international delegates and this provided an opportunity to discuss the emerging paradigm of world trade and, inter alia, dwelt on issues faced by services sector, trade and inclusive growth and alike.
Report on Companies Bill, 2009: Need to Reconsider
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, through its 21st report on the Companies Bill, 2009, has sought to bring significant changes in the Bill. Certain aspects of the Report need a thorough re-look. Clause 118 of the Bill deals with the Constitution of National Advisory Committee on Accounting and Auditing Standards (NACAAS). Introduction of Auditing Standards in the Companies Act in this clause will lead to duplication and delays without any gains. We would be left with the role of drafting the accounting and auditing standards and to assist the NACAAS, which will depend on us for preparing the original material. It is but logical that, having the expertise, we should continue with our role of framing the auditing standards and other authoritative literature for compliance. We issue Auditing Standards complying with the standards issued by the International Auditing and Assurance Standards Board (IAASB), a body constituted under the aegis of the IFAC. Observation by the MCA that Auditing Standards are issued by a single institute is, in our opinion, misconceived. We issue the standards after the consideration of the comments received from various interest groups by the Auditing and Assurance Standards Board which consists of our Council members and representatives of the RBI, the SEBI, the C&AG, etc. Then, the vetting of these Standards by a body with no experience in the conduct of audit is not desirable. This issue needs a serious consideration, as this is a matter of our losing control over the area of expertise. Otherwise, the very purpose of bringing the Act of 1949 to create an autonomous body under an Act of Parliament would be lost.
Clause 123 dealing with the appointment of auditors, Clause 124 Eligibility, qualifications and disqualification of auditors, Clause 125 Remuneration of auditors, Clause 126 Powers and duties of auditors and auditing standards and Clause 130 Punishment for contravention also need to be further deliberated and given due consideration. Therefore, it has been decided to form a group at all-India level for drafting our response to various recommendations of the Report.
IFRS Convergence Status: NACAS Acceptance
The Draft of Ind-AS 41 (Corresponding to IFRS 1), first-time adoption of the Indian Accounting Standards, was considered by us recently. Meanwhile, National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS) has agreed to our view that, out of AS 30 (corresponding to IAS 39) or AS 40 (corresponding to IFRS 9), only AS 30 should be made applicable. It has approved Accounting Standards on Financial Instruments, i.e. AS 30, 31 and 32 with certain changes in AS 30 and AS 31. NACAS has also decided not to include IFRIC 15 on accounting of agreements for the construction of real estates in AS 9, Revenue Recognition, keeping in view the conflict displayed by us. The scope of AS 7, Construction Contracts, has been modified to the effect that accounting for real estate developers would be in the scope of AS 7. By implication, the real estate developers have to follow Percentage completion method rather than completion method, once the change is notified by the Government NACAS has approved the revised Schedule VI to the Companies Act, 1956, for recommending the same to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs for notification.
Regarding AS 18 (corresponding to IAS 24), Related Party Disclosures, NACAS has suggested that the term Domestic Partner should not be removed. With regard to our suggestion to recognise gain on bargain purchase in case of business combinations in Capital Reserve instead of Profit and Loss, NACAS has suggested to recognise the same in Other Comprehensive Income. With regard to recognition of actuarial gains and losses arising on defined benefit obligation and related defined benefit plan, draft of AS 15 (Revised 20XX), Employee Benefits, requires the same to be recognised immediately in profit or loss. NACAS has suggested that the entire amount of actuarial gains or losses should be recognised immediately in Other comprehensive income, keeping in view the suggestions of industry representatives on NACAS and principles given in this regard in the Exposure Draft on IAS 19 issued in April 2010 by the IASB. We have agreed with their suggestions.
Revised Practitioners Guide for SMPs
We have come across a lot of apprehensions with respect to the number of auditing standards being issued by us and the difficulties faced in their implementation in audit of smaller audit clients. In an increasingly qualityconscious world, application of the Standards is not just our obligation but a rightful demand of our clients that we pledge to serve. We have taken strong and proactive confidence-building measures to help our SMPs in joining the mainstream of the profession and grow, e.g. Revised Practitioners Guide to Audit of Smaller Entitiesthat takes a very comprehensive approach to implementation of all the auditing standards in case of audit of small clients. We urge our members too to come forward and accept the challenges that necessarily appear in any growth story. In addition, we are organising many awareness programmes in this regard.
Implementation Guide to SAs 700, 705 and 706
Reporting is the culmination of the auditors work. As the members would be aware, the Institute has issued three critical Standards on Auditing to deal with different aspects of reporting. To help our members understand and implement these Standards in actual audit situations, we will bring out an Implementation Guide to the three reporting Standards, i.e. SA 700, SA 705 and SA 706, issued under the Clarity Project. The Implementation Guide will be in an FAQ form and will contain many illustrative situations requiring various types of audit opinions.
Technical Guide on Internal Audit for BPOs
The Internal Audit Standards Board of the ICAI has finalised and issued the Technical Guide on Internal Audit of BPO Industry to deal with the complexity of processes which give rise to a spectrum of strategic and operational risks. With sound domain knowledge, good analytical skills, and process understanding, chartered accountants would be able to plug into the position of the internal auditor of this (BPO) industry.
Consideration of Drafts on ASLB
The Council recently considered and approved the draft of ASLB (Accounting Standards for Local Bodies) 1Presentation of Financial Statements. The draft will be circulated among our Council colleagues and other external specified bodies for comments. The IPSAS 24 on Presentation of Budget Information in the Financial Statements is relevant to this Standard. Accordingly, it was decided to take up a project for formulation of the corresponding ASLB. We also considered the basic draft of the proposed ASLB on Inventories and proposed certain changes in it.
MCA Requests ICAI to Develop Uniform Accounting/Reporting Fabric
Another Group was formed, at the request of the MCA, for developing uniform accounting/reporting framework for NGOs under the convenership of our Central Council colleague CA. S. B. Zaware. The Group would suggest and recommend an appropriate format of financial statements and financial control guidelines, and methods of accounting to be followed by NGOs governed by Societies Registration Act, 1860. It would examine the laws to monitor the fundflow to NGOs under extant laws, e.g. FEMA, Income-tax Act, etc., and suggest a framework considering the features of all these Acts for proposing a regulatory model for monitoring the fund-flow. Committee on Economic & Commercial Laws and WTO has been instructed to deal with rest of the concerns arising out of the MCA communication to us.
SEBI Amendments in Listing Agreement and Draft Certifcates
Securities and Exchange Board of India had recently amended clause 24 of the Listing Agreement, requiring the auditors to certify that the scheme of merger/ acquisition are in accordance with the applicable accounting standards. The Institute has already developed the draft formats of such certificate to be issued by the auditor. These draft formats will be available soon for the guidance of the members.
Roundtable on Commerce and Accountancy Education
We are happy to inform all our members and students that, to increase the scope of accountancy education, we are organising a roundtable conference on Commerce and Accountancy Education in India: Issues and Challenges on September 26, 2010, in New Delhi. Vice- Chancellors, heads of department and senior professors of commerce and finance of all established and recognised universities of the country have been invited to participate in the conference, which will provide a platform to discuss the new paradigms for commerce and professional accountancy education in India. This conference will help the academic foresee the bigger picture of accountancy and commerce education, and help us to rebuild our further strategies accordingly.
Assurance of Land to Bhopal Branch of ICAI
ICAI Vice-President CA. G. Ramaswamy and the undersigned attended the 31st Regional Conference of the CIRC, hosted by Bhopal Branch on August 28, 2010. CA. Shri Rameshwar Thakur, Honble Governor of Madhya Pradesh and our Past President inaugurated the Conference. Shri Thakur assured us to allot land for the premises of Bhopal Branch of CIRC of the ICAI. Later, we also met the Honble Chief Minister of the State, Shri Shivraj Singh Chouhan, and discussed the services that chartered accountants render to the State.
This Project was conceived with an idea of taking ICAI to a qualitatively new way of working which would bring together both aspiring and existing chartered accountants in the country. The project took a comprehensive 360 degree view of the existing processes and benchmarked them with the global best practices. Accordingly, a need to change the current operational processes of the Institute to meet global benchmarks has been made and a roadmap evolved for the adoption of a Unified Digital Technology Platform that will be used to transform ICAI into a truly efficient, transparent and global organisation. Infosys Technologies has partnered with us to help in formulating our vision, roadmap and an 18-month plan for Project Parivartan. Infosys will also help us in running the Program Management Office towards our dream of Parivartan.
Status of Disciplinary Cases
As regards the status of Disciplinary cases, we would like to inform that, under the old disciplinary mechanism, hearing in 58 cases has been concluded by the Disciplinary Committee of the Institute. In the Council Meeting recently, 55 reports were included and 10 more reports are ready for inclusion. Under the new mechanism, the Board of Discipline and Disciplinary Committee have completed hearing in 54 cases. The Board of Discipline/Disciplinary Committee has also considered primafacie opinion of the Director (Disc.) in 33 cases. In addition to the above, prima facie opinion of the Director (Discipline) in approx. 75 complaint and information cases would be considered by the Board of Discipline or Disciplinary Committee as the case may be. All efforts are being taken to complete the public interest cases on priority, irrespective of the mechanism in which they are falling.
Concerns for Members
Banks to Open List of Auditors in 2:1 Ratio: We are happy to inform that the persistent efforts of Professional Development Committee with regards to the appointment of auditors for the banks have paid off. We have successfully convinced both the Ministry of Finance and the RBI not to open the complete list of eligible central statutory auditors for banks to select their auditors. Accordingly, the list of auditors has been released in the ratio of 2:1, i.e. names of two auditors will be given against one vacancy. Next year, we would try for the 1:1 ratio. We deeply appreciate the efforts made by our Central Council colleague CA. Pankaj I. C. Jain, Chairman, Professional Development Committee in this regard.
Seeking Data on Tax Audit from CBDT: We have sent a letter of request to the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) asking them to provide the number of tax audit reports filed with them during 2009-10, e.g. data on tax audit based on fields like name and membership number of the auditor, assessment year, PAN of the auditee, etc., which would enable us to review the ceiling on the number of tax audit assignments that a chartered accountant can accept in a financial year, either as a partner or a proprietor.
ICAI Recommendations of Amendments in the CA Act, 1949: Our Council had constituted a Group on Amendments in the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, under the convenership of ICAI Vice-President, CA. G. Ramaswamy, to suggest draft amendments in the Act arising out of the Report of the High-Powered Committee so as to empower the Act to take disciplinary action against erring CA firms, only in grave circumstances and, also, in cases of repetition of gross negligence by their partners. In addition to our Council colleagues suggestions on table, they have also been asked to send their written comments, if any, for consideration of the Group.
Group to Resolve Dispute for Members: A new group has been constituted recently under the convenership of our Central Council colleague CA. Nilesh Vikamsey to examine the matter of development of an alternative dispute resolution mechanism (arbitrator) for dealing with disputes of member vis--vis member and member vis--vis student, and bringing the same back to the Central Council with its recommendations.
Auditors, Remuneration and Indian Banks: We have made a representation to Shri G. Gopalakrishna, Executive Director, Reserve Bank of India regarding the revival of Category of Part C auditors for audit of Public Sector Banks. We have sent a letter to NABARD Chairman Shri Umesh Chandra Sarangi regarding appointment and remuneration of auditors of state and district central cooperative banks. Indian Banks Association has appreciated the suggested coverage of the report on concurrent audit of banks as comprehensive and has stated that it covers the major functions of the branches.
Webcast on Direct Tax: The Direct Taxes Committee has conducted a live webcast recently, where the undersigned along with the ICAI Vice-President CA. G. Ramaswamy and Central Council colleague CA. Dhinal Shah participated in deliberations of the webcast from Chennai. The Committee Chairman and Vice-Chairman CA. Jayant Gokhale and CA. M. Devaraja Reddy respectively participated in the webcast from Delhi and provided their valuable inputs.
Cause of Concern: US Move to Discourage Outsourcing: As members are aware that fee hikes for H1-B visas and Ohios decision to ban outsourcing of government IT projects will directly affect Indian tech workers and Indian companies in the US. US President Barack Obama now intends to end corporate tax breaks for US companies that create jobs and profits in other countries. This move has triggered consternation across Indias US$50 billion annual outsourcing industry. It is indeed a matter of concern, although the issue of tax breaks is not going to have a direct impact on our accountancy profession or our outsourcing business, because the US companies are outsourcing to India for better operational efficiency and to arbitrage labour costs, not taxes, as Indian corporate tax rates are actually higher than those in the US. Blocking of tax breaks is unlikely to be enough detriment for US companies to stop outsourcing. However, what is more worrying is the trend of populist extra-protectionism that US is trying to set, which might affect Indian CA professionals in the long run. In this age of globalisation, such protectionist barriers can only prove to be detrimental. We would advise the interested members to prepare themselves to face such protectionist trends as well.
Students necessarily have an element of idealism and the world becomes better when they enter into the institution of a family with their idealism. This is called a gift of the new world. We would like to appeal to our members to encourage such endeavours in students during articleship. Meanwhile, we will continue to take strong measures in the students interests:
Reduction in Scale of Entitlement to Train Articled Assistants: The Executive Committee has discussed and rationalised the criteria for entitlement to train articled assistants by an Associate/ Fellow member or a full-time employed chartered accountant considering that a large number of vacancies remain unfilled especially in the case of SMPs. On the recommendations of the Committee, our Council has considered the reduction in scale of entitlement to train articled assistants, as a large number of vacancies are unfilled due to the change in scheme and education wherein students are entitled to commence article only after passing IPCC instead of immediately after passing CPT examination.
International Conference on Indian Accountancy Profession: An international conference of CA Students would be organised on December 28-29, 2010, in Delhi jointly by the Board of Studies and the NIRC of the ICAI. Theme of the conference would be Indian Accountancy Profession - Marching towards Global Centre Stage. Detailed announcement will follow in the students Journal and in the Newsletters of other Regional Councils and Branches. We sincerely hope that our students will actively participate and make it a success.
Eligibility for admission to CPT examination: The Council, realising the difficulties faced by students, has decided that the students who have not passed 10+2 examination but have passed any other diploma course and later have pursued graduation are eligible for the CPT examination. The same is being taken up with the Central Government for necessary approval.
Residential Course: We have decided to organise the residential course on General Management and Communication Skills (GMCS) at more centres so that a large number of students can be benefited. The duration of the course will be reduced to six weeks from three months. And, top 10 rank-holders in the PCC/IPCC and Final examinations will be enrolled for the sixweek course without any fee.
Live Virtual Classes: Considerable progress has been made to start Live Virtual Classes (LVC) for CPT, IPCC and Final courses of the CA curriculum. The conduct of classes would commence very shortly and we are hopeful that a large number of students would derive benefit from these classes.
Campus Selection for Articled Assistants: An optional campus placement scheme has been introduced for selection of articles. The Pilot Campus Placement Programme was held at Delhi in August 2010 for the firms having their offices in Delhi. 41 CA firms and 390 students registered for the programme, and, out of these, 31 firms and 148 students participated. Considering the positive response, feedback and request from both firms and students, it has been decided to start an Online Articles Placement Portal to facilitate placement of articles in firms on pan-India basis. Eligible firms and candidates can register at https://bosapp.icai.org that would be opened shortly.
Nationwide Programmes/Conventions: 21 one-day seminars were successfully organised across the nation. Regional Councils and Branches of the ICAI organised elocution and quiz contests. Branches also organised 34 careercounseling programmes to popularise the CA course. Ernakulam Branch of ICAI hosted a state-level conference. A twoday National Convention of Students was held in Kolkata and attended by almost one thousand students. Chief Guest and Special Guest on the occasion were Minister-in-charge, PWD, West Bengal, Shri K. Goswami and former Indian cricket captain Shri Sourav Ganguly respectively. Shri T. N. Manoharan, former ICAI President, and the Chairman and the Director of the Board of Studies also addressed the students.
VI Pay Commission and ICAI Officers Pay Revision
We are extremely happy to inform that the issue regarding the pay revision of the ICAI officers based on the recommendations of the VI Pay Commission was largely completed by the appointed Group. We are sure that this decision will further motivate our officers towards their responsibilities and strengthen their bonds with the Institute.
Commonwealth Games, Delhis biggest-ever event, are approaching fast. So much has been said for our preparations and efforts in this regard. Isnt it too late to speak our concerns over this? Demand of the hour asks us to be positive and to try to add to the success of the event and to the comfort of our athletes, both national and international, and other guests. Let us speak positive. We grow together learning from each other. We all are responsible people. Let us behave more responsibly. Let us put in our concerted efforts to make it a spectacle by understanding our role in it.
Let us try to make this event a success by celebrating the occasion and we are sure to remember it as an event of national pride in retrospect. Let the festival of Dussehra speed up our win over the evil. We wish everybody a very happy and joyous Dussehra.
CA. AMARJIT CHOPRA
September 26, 2010