ICAI President’s Message for February 2015

Dear Professional Colleagues, Change is the only thing that is constant. 
It is this continuity of change-change with times, that has kept our profession in a leading position in India for decades. 
As the saying goes, ‘continuity gives us roots; change gives us branches, letting us stretch and grow and reach new heights’. It is time for change in ICAI too-a change of guard at the very top. 

Yes, very soon you will have a new President, a new direction and a new surge of energy. ‘As I sign off as President of ICAI, I feel overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on me and the confidence reposed in me by all of you. 

My tenure as President, which completes a long professional journey of 24 years since 1990, has been full of special moments, which I would cherish for all times to come… My term as President has been truly a learning experience. 

I have tried to transform my tenure into a worth-reading Chapter in the history of ICAI and wish that all such chapters to be written in future turn out to be golden ones for the ICAI and its members.

’ This year we Grew Bigger and Better I believe that with every rising sun, you rejoice at a journey that has begun, and with every setting sun, you rejoice at the victories that you have achieved and the paths that you paved for victories the next day. 

I am handing over the baton of ICAI leadership to my successor in this very spirit, with much to rejoice for. We have indeed come a long way in a short span of one year. 
I am proud to say that the ICAI is today a more robust, energetic and futuristic organisation than a year ago. I am happy to recall that in the last one year during which I led the glorious journey of ICAI, it has not only grown bigger and better but has also paved way for a brighter tomorrow for the profession. There has been a phenomenal rise in status, prestige and image of ICAI in public eye. 

When I took over the reins of the ICAI, I had a mission of Moving Towards New Frontiers with the ultimate vision of excellence. I am proud to say that we have accomplished most of the Mission 2014- 15 with panache. As an IT-oriented President, I had a vision to harness technology for professional excellence faster and better. 

Today I am contented that 2014-15 proved to be a path-breaking year in this respect. Besides this, we have not only set several milestones and overcome many challenges with the spirit of true partner in nation building but also triumphed many hitherto unchartered territories of professional capabilities in various spheres of the economy and society. 

As envisioned, this year the ICAI did not exist merely as a regulator but also as a facilitator, serving the best interests of our nation, our profession, our members, our students and other allied stakeholders. This technology-oriented year saw Indian accountancy profession coming to the forefront of present day knowledge economy and move closer to the ICAI’s stated Mission, that is: ‘The Indian Chartered Accountancy Profession will be the valued Trustees of World Class Financial Competencies, Good Governance and Competitiveness’. 

Special Thanks…. These achievements were not possible without the active and unflinching support of CA. Manoj Fadnis as Vice President, my colleagues in the Central Council, Regional Councils, Branches, Foreign Chapters and officers and staff of ICAI. I humbly thank all of them. I also express my gratitude towards Past Presidents and other well wishers for their encouragement and support. 

On a personal note I also take this opportunity to say special thanks to my late father, whose motivation and inspiration has kept me committed to our profession for more than two decades. I am also indebted to my mother, wife and children understanding my overbearing pre-occupation with the affairs of our alma mater ICAI, and their unfathomable and inexpressible support and encouragement in the process. Although the achievements of this year have been listed inside this journal, let me give you a quick overview of the 12 areas of strategic focus of my Agenda for 2014-15: 

1. Leadership and Influence: PM Nominates ICAI for Swatchha Bharat Abhiyan This year ICAI set an example worth following in the realm of ‘Leadership and Influence’ by reaching out to all levels of Indian polity and regulators, and winning recognition all around. The most recent achievement in this sphere has been our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi nominating ICAI to take forward the Swatchha Bharat Abhiyan. We feel extremely honoured to receive this nomination as it is for the first time that any professional body has been nominated by the Prime Minister for this important national initiative. This is the result of our deep commitment and proactive actions with respect to Government’s growth agenda and its flagship programmes all through this year. I humbly accept the nomination on behalf of the entire CA fraternity and congratulate all of you for this recognition and acknowledgement from the leader of Indian polity. The ICAI will launch vigorous campaigns to make the national cleanliness drive a grand success through the branch network and with the support of 2,35,000 members, 8,50,000 students and staff members across the country. Besides this, we not only offered our services for the economic reforms agenda and the other flagship programmes of the new government but also particularly led by example in facilitating a new era of accounting reforms with IFRS Convergence in India and working for adoption of Accrual Accounting in all government departments. Besides, we commendably firmed up our regulatory leadership through a series of speedy measures and actions, including completion of our inquiry and awarding maximum punishment in the Satyam case and recently establishing a new Tax Audit Monitoring Cell for monitoring the Tax Audit Reports submitted by the members to the Income Tax authorities. To put forward issues of interest to the Indian accountancy profession, I met the then Prime Minister Shri Manmohan Singh, present Union Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley, Railway Minister CA. Suresh Prabhu, Minister of State for Commerce & Industry (I/C) Ms. Nirmala Seetharaman, RBI Governor Shri Raghuram Rajan, SEBI Chairman Shri UK Sinha, IRDA Chairman Shri TS Vijayan, and a host of other dignitaries including parliamentarians and India’s leading industrialist Shri Mukesh Ambani. 

2. Global Recognition: Formation of New Chapters This year I aimed at putting brand Indian CA on the global map and tap the ever-increasing global opportunities for our members. I am satisfied that we have fulfilled this objective to a great extent, particularly by establishing three new chapters. I am happy to inform you that while we recently opened ICAI’s 24th Overseas Chapter in Vancouver (Canada), the 25th and 26th Chapters were opened in Bangkok (Thailand) and Dar Es Salam (Tanzania) this month. Meanwhile, the stage is set to open new chapters at Ras-Al-Khaimah, Perth, Adelaide and Canberra. This year we developed synergy and effective bonding with all the global accounting bodies and institutions including IFAC, AICPA, CAPA and SAFA. The MoUs were signed with Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia, New Zealand Institute of Chartered Accountants, Saudi Organisation for Certified Public Accountants. We also renewed our MRA with Certified Practicing Accountants Australia and signed a new MRA with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales. Global Career e–Kits were launched in UAE, Kuwait, Muscat, Doha and Sydney. The world recognised that India is set to become a global hub for accounting professionals and took special note of our viewpoints at a number of International Conferences, particularly at the recent World Congress of Accountants in Rome. ICAI scored a first in its history by organising the International Forum of Accounting Standards Setters Meet in New Delhi while I joined the league of world accountancy leaders serving the profession globally with my election to the Board of IFAC for a period of three years. 

3. Members in Industry-Advancing the Agenda of Responsibility Our ‘Members in Industry’ received special attention this year in line with my vision to spread the ICAI Vision and Mission and promote ‘brand Indian CA’ across industry. These times saw huge demand for CA and brimmed with opportunities, which were effectively tapped through Campus Interviews, outreach programmes, knowledge and support to members in industry, mentorship programme and ICAI-Reconnect. In fact 7,409 candidates registered for our Campus Interviews and 1,719 jobs were offered this year. Further, two high-profile events-ICAI Corporate Forum 2014 and ICAI Awards for Excellence in Financial Reporting are all set to be organised very soon. 

4. Members in Practice-Consolidating Profession Empowerment of SMPs, which cover majority of accounting professionals in India, had been at the core of my all-inclusive growth agenda this year. We effectively approached the authorities and secured favourable results regarding various crucial provisions of the Companies Act, 2013 while resources were dedicated to facilitate enabling framework, networks, knowledge- upgrade and guidance to leverage emerging opportunities for Members in Practice. 5. Women Empowerment-Taking them in a New Dimension Today we boast of women comprising more than 21% of our total membership. Complementing this figure, girls today have 36% share in our active studentship. The Year 2014-15 witnessed special initiatives to tap the immense potential that lie embedded in these encouraging numbers in the interest of Indian accounting profession, society and the nation. The highlights included formation of a new Women Member Empowerment Committee, a flexi-working portal for women members, equipping them to perform as women directors and a series of special programmes including the recent high-profile 2-day World CA Women Summit at Dubai, which excellently showcased CA Women power with participation of hundreds of women professionals from across the world. 

6. Young Members Empowerment-Paving their Path to Success Pragmatic and multi-dimensional, the ICAI young members were given special attention to help them forge uniquely effective career paths across various domains. In order to pave the practical pathways to their success, special initiatives were taken to help them set up practice and empower them through a new Young Members Empowerment Committee, Young Members Practitioners Kits, mentorship programmes, an exclusive web-portal for them and facilitating outsourcing opportunities to them in accounting, auditing and management consultancy services, etc. 

7. Student Initiatives-Reviewing Education and doubling of Stipend ICAI’s students had been one of my topmost priorities this year with a vision to reset ICAI future priorities and revitalise and re-align Indian accountancy education with the emerging imperatives and global best practices. This was done through a new Committee on Review of Education and Training and a new CA Curriculum which has been approved by the Council and will be exposed for public comments shortly. Our Cloud Campus initiative and setting up of 125 Reading Rooms and ITT Centres have attracted global attention. In the latest move to serve the cause of our students, we have doubled their stipend and organised the first ever Google Hangout for them. 

8. Technology Initiatives-A Path-Breaking Year Information Technology has been my professional forte and as the President I was keen to harness technology for the benefit of the profession. Today I am happy to say that in this process, the 2014-15 has turned out to be a path-breaking year so far as technological initiatives are concerned, with many milestones to ICAI’s credit. With personal push from me, IT was put to optimum use for efficient delivery of services and betterment of the professional capabilities this year to give Indian accounting profession a winning edge and raise a new generation of global professionals. Over the year, more than 13 path-breaking hi-tech initiatives were launched, which were very well received, scripting a success story of their own in a very short span of time. These included a new Technology Development Committee, ICAI Mobile App- ICAI NOW, ICAI Knowledge Gateway, Flexi Working Portal for Women, Embracing Social Media, Cloud Campus, ICAI Publications Online Store, ICAI Digital Library, ICAI TV, e-Books, Video Podcasts, Independent Directors Repository and Google Hangouts. 

9. Infrastructure and Governance-Strengthening our Base to Rise I ensured that sufficient measures were taken to implement good and robust corporate governance and best HR practices to bridge the perceived expectation gap among the ICAI stakeholders. To this effect we formed a dedicated non-standing HR Transformation Committee in the Institute, launched the ICAI Branch Employees Scheme-2014 and training programmes on leadership, RTI, etc., to empower the Institute’s staff. I believe that to achieve a comprehensive professional growth we must have an appropriate infrastructure in place. As such, I also focused much of my attention on this agenda and in the process set up two new Branches of ICAI, inaugurated five Branch buildings and laid the foundation stone for two other Branch buildings during the current year. These included Anantapur and Kurnool branches and opening of Mangalore, Bikaner, Amritsar, Hisar and Jammu branch buildings. Foundation Stone was laid for Kannur and Bhatinda branches of ICAI. A new non-standing Infrastructure Development Committee spearheaded this campaign and helped in the realisation of this purpose. 

10. Branding and Capacity Building-Launching New Certificate Courses To disseminate the brand Indian CA in the country as well as across the world, we worked tirelessly through all national and international professional forums. We were able to launch four new Certificate Courses in relevant domains including CSR and Information Security Systems to develop our members’ expertise. I am happy to share with you that we organised 200 plus Seminars and Conferences and 200 plus training programmes across the country. 

11. Member Support and Benefits-CABF Receives More than 1 Crore The agenda of Member Support and Benefits has been very dear to me and I have very passionately worked for this initiative. It is commendable that the Fund has already collected more than 1 crore in the Council year 2014-15. More particularly, I feel elated to acknowledge here that a member from Bangalore, CA. T. V. Mohandas Pai, made a very generous contribution of 50 lakh to our Chartered Accountants Benevolent Fund from out of his commitment of one crore. Besides, we decided to grant exemption to women Chartered Accountants on the grounds of pregnancy regarding compliance with CPE-hour requirements, and to differently-abled Chartered Accountants from Structured Learning. We launched a scheme to facilitate opening up of practice rights to overseas citizens of India who are Chartered Accountants and Certified Public Accountants. We approached over 25 regulators, ministries, etc., on the issues of professional concerns, and submitted more than 12 panels of chartered accountants to various authorities and departments. 

12. Research Initiatives-Encouraging Academics through Recognitions This year we focused on research in contemporary domains and tied up with leading institutions in the fields of Accounting, Auditing, Taxation, Finance and Assurance. A MoU was signed with the Employees Provident Fund Organisation to support them in migrating to accrual-based accounting system and very recently started a pilot study project with Indian Railways to support in its Accounting Reforms initiatives. Under the project ICAI ARF will perform a Validation of Accounting Reform’s Report and related Pilot Study from Accrual Accounting perspectives for Indian Railways. Further the CA qualification was recognised for the PhD programme by Bharati Vidyapeeth Deemed University (Pune), CMR University (Bengaluru) and Mangalayatan University (Aligarh). However, I feel that these feats and achievements cannot be final. We cannot rest till we hit our ultimate goal of becoming the best in the accounting world. There are still miles to go and still many more promises to keep. As such, I am sure my successors will not only complete the unfinished agenda but also take up new agenda, set new goals, and achieve newer milestones in times to come. Govt. Accepts ICAI Roadmap for Ind AS converged with IFRS I take great pride to inform you that the Government has accepted our recommendations with regard to the roadmap for implementation of Indian Accounting Standards (Ind AS) converged with IFRS for Companies other than Banking Companies, Insurance Companies and NBFCs. We had recommended a new roadmap to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs in August 2014, subsequent to the Budget statement of the Hon’ble Finance Minister to implement the Indian Accounting Standards converged with International Financial Reporting Standards on voluntary basis from 1st April, 2015 and on mandatory basis from 1st April, 2016. On our front, we are fully prepared to facilitate unleashing this major accounting reform in the country. We have revised all the Ind AS, issued the new Ind AS converged with IFRS and submitted them to the National Advisory Committee on Accounting Standards (NACAS). The NACAS has also completed the exercise and recommended all the Ind AS to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs last month. It is expected that the Ministry will notify the new set of Ind AS shortly. As per the roadmap, after the initial phase of Ind AS becoming mandatory from 1st April 2016, about 550 listed companies are expected to implement the Ind AS (the number would be higher if unlisted companies having net worth of more than 500 crore are also covered). This number is likely to increase next year as all the listed companies and unlisted companies having net-worth of more than 250 crore will get covered in the next year. Further, Banks, NBFCs and Insurance Companies are expected to move to Ind AS 2-3 years thereafter. We Welcome and Support Prospects of GST It is welcome that the Centre and States finally reached a consensus on the contours of the Goods and Services Tax (GST). India is all set to roll out the largest indirect tax reform since the introduction of the Value-Added Tax in 2005. Our Finance Minister Shri Arun Jaitley is expected to table the Constitution Amendment Bill in the current session of Parliament to meet the deadline of 1st April, 2016, for its introduction. We at the Institute whole-heartedly support this move, which will create a single, unified Indian market to make the economy stronger besides boosting tax collections. It is estimated that India will gain $15 billion a year by implementing GST as it would promote exports, raise employment and boost growth. A study by the National Council of Applied Economic Research estimated that roll out of the tax would boost the GDP growth by anywhere between 0.9-1.7%. The Indian accountancy profession is convinced about the immense benefits of GST and is committed for its smooth roll-out and implementation. We will prepare a clear pathway for the convergence of existing taxes with GST with joint workshops of the Customs and Central Excise Departments. In a meeting with CBEC Chairperson Ms. JM Shanti Sundharam last year, we have already offered our support to the Government in clearing the path for implementation of GST in India. We proposed to organise GST training and awareness programmes for Excise and Service Tax officials across the country New ICDS under our Active Consideration The Finance Ministry has proposed the new Income Computation and Disclosure Standards (ICDS) chargeable under the head ‘Profits and Gains of Business or Profession’ or ‘Income from Other Sources’ to ensure consistency as well as clarity on taxation issues. I wish to inform you that the new draft of 12 ICDS, for which comments have been sought from stakeholders till 8th February 2015, are under our active consideration. Although the Finance Ministry has accepted several of our suggestions in its ICDS proposals, some issues of concern still remain, which we plan to take up with the Finance Ministry on the basis of the comments/suggestions received from our members and other stakeholders in this regard. Profession Aggrieved at Loss of CA Rameshwar Thakur The accountancy profession in India lost one of its leading lights and a prominent and veteran figure in public life when Past President of Institute of Chartered Accountants of India CA. Rameshwar Thakur passed away on 15th January 2015. He was about 86. He was President of the ICAI during the year 1966-67. Freedom Fighter late CA. Thakur was an active member of the profession and had held responsible positions in public life like Governor of Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Union Minister of State. Widely known for his core simplicity, spontaneity and forthrightness, he was a strong proponent of ethics in the profession. In his last message to ICAI, for the Bengaluru International Conference, he had said: The new entrant as well as those already in practice have to keep themselves constantly updated in their knowledge to face competition… I feel that best tribute to him would be to follow his vision and act on his words of wisdom. As I condole his death, the whole Indian accountancy profession stands by the aggrieved family of late CA. Thakur on this irreparable loss and prays for the peace of the departed soul. As I Bid Adieu, I Feel Overwhelmed by your Love…. As I sign off as President of ICAI, I feel overwhelmed by the love and affection showered on me and the confidence reposed in me by all of you. My tenure as President, which completes a long professional journey of 24 years since 1990, has been full of special moments, which I would cherish for all times to come. I would particularly remember the great warmth demonstrated by members during my branch visits and the love and respect shown by about one lakh students whom I met at different programmes and who thronged to take my autograph and selfies with me. The most satisfying and rewarding thing was the loud accolades I received for my path-breaking and offbeat initiatives. All this has been the source of my strength and has energised me to work aggressively for the cause of the profession. On a personal front also, my presidentship has been a cauldron of rich, vivid and heart-warming experiences-professionally, personally, mentally, culturally, geographically as well as in culinary terms. These included meeting President, Prime Minister, Ministers, all regulators, bureaucrats, ambassadors and members and students from different cultures across the country. It was enlightening to see how our profession has made deep inroads into Indian polity, policy making and different levels of economy and society, and binds so many cultures, time-zones and people together. During this journey I had some never-before experiences like tasting variety of cuisines, having little sleep, no exercise, no leisure, travelling through the deserts in Rajasthan and through hills, plains, plateaus and mountains in extreme weather conditions by road, air, water and train, crisscrossing countries, continents and time zones, and getting stranded at the airports. Let me share with you that on occasions I have been seen as too demanding and too perfectionist, which perhaps is right in view of ever-rising expectations from our stakeholders and the need for a President to be a role model for fellow professionals. To honour the President’s image I did try to project myself as best as I could because unless a man inspired himself to greater achievements how can he inspire the world around him. My term as President has been truly a learning experience during which I could understand the challenges and potential of our profession in a better way. I have tried to transform my tenure into a worth-reading Chapter in the history of ICAI and wish that all such chapters to be written in future turn out to be golden ones for the ICAI and its members. I assure all of you that I will use my insights gained as the President for the betterment of the profession and will always be available for all of you. Adieu! Best Wishes, CA. K. Raghu President, ICAI New Delhi, January 22, 2015 (Source- ICAI) 

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