It is that time of the year when we all are busy completing the fiscal year-end tasks to ensure a smooth transition to the ensuing fiscal year. There is a need to introspect on the moments that made the year memorable and those which may have been difficult but would always have some learnings that improve our perspective for the future.
The year had begun with a venomous second wave of the pandemic, which had sent many states into lockdown mode when there were green shoots of recovery after the first wave. However, during such times one should remember Newton’s first law of motion “An object at rest stays at rest, and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force”. For all of us, the pandemic acted as an unbalanced force. Such unbalanced force disrupts the status quo or the speed - and direction of life and changes the course of action. The unbalanced force of the pandemic was taken head-on by most of us, and accordingly, we have moved out of its inertia and are reasonably successful in channelizing the energy created through grit and passion for growth and progress. During these trying times, there have been new learnings, which has given us the impetus to adopt technology and do things in a way not done before. We all have followed the wisdom of the following statement by my GURU Mahatria Ra:
The crux of creativity is seeing things from a new perspective. The greatest block to creativity is old judgements. It is time to reprogram your minds. So, try the untried.
We commence this month with the traditional New Year of Marathi Hindus - Gudi Padwa, the New Year for Sindhi Hindus – Cheti Chand and the New Year for Kannada, Telugu & Malayalee communities – Ugadi & Vishu. I take this opportunity to wish a very happy new year to all fellow professionals and pray for the well-being and progress of all.
Now turning to our profession, you all would be aware of the ongoing discussion on the ‘The Chartered Accountants, The Cost and Works Accountants and The Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021’ in the Lok Sabha. The Bill was introduced 0n 17th December, 2021, and after representation from ICAI, the Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Finance for examination and report thereon. Subsequently, after hearing the views of the three Institutes and other stakeholders, the Standing Committee finalized their Report on 21st March, 2022.
I would like to delve only into one aspect of the Report titled ‘Increasing Competition’. Here, the Committee has received views from the Ministry of Corporate Affairs and an independent witness. Based on their views and findings, the Committee has made the following observations:
• Qualification and licensing of accountants in advanced countries like the US, UK and Canada are done by multiple bodies unlike in India where one institute has a statutory monopoly over the whole profession.
• Scope for improving the quality and competency of the profession remains limited.
• It is felt that multiple bodies on the lines of advanced countries is required to promote healthy competition, raise the standard and quality of auditing and accounting and improve the credibility of financial reporting.
• The Committee has requested the Government to consider setting up Institutes of Accounting (IIA) akin to IITs and IIMs for further development of the accounting and finance profession in the country.
In my humble view, the mandate of the Standing Committee on Finance was to take views of the stakeholders impacted by the Bill, critically evaluate the Bill as well as the views of the stakeholders and then form their opinion. The section of ‘Increasing Competition’ dealt by the Report, is going beyond the scope delegated to the Committee. Further, the Committee has come out with far-reaching recommendations based on only two views put forth by the Committee. If there has to be any such recommendations which has the bearing on the genesis of the whole accounting and finance profession, there should be an elaborate exercise to call for views from all the stakeholders and institutions having interest in the efficient functioning of the profession.
Being part of the accountancy profession for three decades, I am of the firm belief that the Indian accounting diaspora is on an equal footing with other developed nations in terms of the quality of auditing and financial reporting. In fact, the quantum of auditing and accounting that is outsourced to India itself is testimony to the effectiveness and competency of the professionals who have been groomed under the three leading Institutes of the profession.
Let me now update you all on the initiatives at BCAS. We had the privilege and honour of Hon. CBDT Chairman Mr. J B Mohapatraji, delivering a talk from BCAS platform on the topic ‘Direction of Tax Policy in India’. This is for the first time that the Hon. CBDT Chairman has addressed our members. I thank Respected Mohapatraji for this gesture and sharing his views on tax policies.
BCAS, as a service to its members and young aspiring CAs, organized through its Seminar, Public Relations & Membership Development Committee, a first-ever Job Fair jointly with Monster.com. This is an initiative to assist SMPs in participating and selecting suitable professionals who have qualified as CAs during the past four exams. This also provided an opportunity for young CAs to evaluate options at one place and understand the offerings of various employers. Response to the Job Fair was fairly good, with 13 employers participating and 142 candidates registering. There were in all more than 250 interviews conducted physically and virtually. There were more than 25 offers from employers to the candidates. The Job Fair was planned along with felicitation of recently qualified CAs with a talk on ‘Future Ready – What Next?’ by two eminent faculties CA Robin Banerjee and CA Chirag Doshi. They shared their perspective on the approach and opportunities in industry and practice. This year’s event was physical, and the response was very encouraging, where we felicitated 160 professionals, of which 5 were rank holders. The event was very well received and appreciated by the participants for the guidance provided by the speakers for the approach during their professional journey. I am sure this is the beginning of BCAS acting as a bridge between the SMPs and young budding CAs, thereby serving its objectives.
I have just discussed about felicitation of young recently qualified CAs and hence would end with a message for young professionals, to be consistent to be of relevance, which is narrated by my GURU Mahatria Ra:
You will not be remembered for what you do or did once in a way, but for what you do and did all the time.