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My Dear Professional Colleagues,

The pandemic has left the world economy grappling with unprecedented shocks and upheaval. Financial woes and economic catastrophe brought by a single year of the coronavirus pandemic not only undid the years of economic gain but also led to a deep contraction in many economies. Nonetheless, India with its continuous efforts creating an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship, persists to be a steady, tenacious and indomitable player in the global race of emerging markets by consistently undertaking numerous endeavours to facilitate ease of conducting business in spite of the turbulent times that plague the world economy today. Fortunately, after contraction in two consecutive quarters in 2020, India is showing signs of recovery with slight positive GDP rate in the 3rd quarter. Key sectors of trade, hotels, transport, communication and services related to broadcasting despite being in red have performed much better as compared to 2nd quarter.

President, ICAI

In order to become the next growth titan, India needs to bounce back in the next fiscal year, expanding by (according to some estimates), about 10 per cent to reverse the growth hiatus brought about by the pandemic. Considering the current economic conditions and pandemic situation still prevailing in many parts, this seems to be a herculean task but certainly not impossible. We must leverage our strengths and translate our demographic surplus into higher standards of living by diversification of manufacturing and service sectors across destinations as well as products. India needs to take advantage of its vibrant service sector and channelize all attention towards bringing transformation in quality, complexity and sophistication of its export basket. Improving the infrastructure and reducing the trade and service costs will not only attract domestic and foreign investment but also expedite the growth. Enforcing economic reforms, upgrading skills, multiplying economic productivity and improving flexibility of markets are the pathbreaking measures which can accelerate India’s journey of becoming a manufacturing powerhouse. In the competitive economic environment that exists today, India sets itself apart with its resilient spirits, strengths of will and fixity of purpose, stimulated by the astute, strategic and proactive leadership of Government. Our tenacity and willingness to grow and evolve in sync with the dynamic times, allows us to put our best foot forward, form beneficial global allies in times of need and undertake high-value-augmenting initiatives.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has always worked at providing requisite training and equipping its members with the necessary skills and knowledge required to spearhead our country towards economic prosperity. Under the fine guidance of ICAI Council and its Committees, our members can channelise the country’s resources to the most rewarding avenues and ideate, adept and proficient strategies for their clientele that can benefit the individual, the business and the economy as a whole. I exhort all members to take up this challenge do something in the best interest of Indian economy. Remember the words of Theodore Roosevelt — “in any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing”.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India has always worked for the unanimous best of all its stakeholders, aided the government in its endeavours and been a partner in nation building. In the current year, to give focussed impetus to the Indian economic mindset, we have set up a “Committee on MSMEs & Start-up”. Through this committee, we will endeavour to support Ministry and Government bodies in building an enabling ecosystem for Industry, MSMEs and Start-ups by collating suitable inputs for framing growth oriented policies.

Meetings that Matter

I, along with the Vice-President CA. (Dr.) Debashis Mitra had the privilege of meeting key Government functionaries to discuss matters related to contribution of accounting profession and its increasing role in economy. Our meeting with Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman, Hon’ble Union Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister was held to discuss our representation regarding the removal of requirement of audit and certification of reconciliation statement by a Chartered Accountant under CGST Act. We, besides other points, apprised that GST Audit is not an avoidable compliance. GST Audit by a Chartered Accountant ensures maker checker concept thereby detecting inconsistencies, lapses, errors and ambiguities, if any, in complying with the provisions of GST law. We also submitted that Audit should not be seen as a cost to the taxpayer, rather it is an investment for him, the benefits of which are reaped over a period of time. The taxpayer is able to take corrective actions for irregularities/lapses detected during the audit thereby saving avoidable costs in terms of interest and penalties. Further, audit also helps the taxpayers in saving on litigation expenses as errors are noticed and addressed in time. In this meeting, CA. Rajendra Kumar P., Chairman, GST and Indirect Taxes Committee also joined us. In this direction, CA. Babu Abraham Kallivayalil, Chairman, Professional Development Committee also met Finance Minister and Members in Parliament CA. Thomas Chazhikadan, CA. Suresh Prabhu, CA. Narain Dass Gupta.

I also met Shri Anurag Singh Thakur, Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance & Corporate Affairs wherein I expressed the similar sentiments and requested Hon’ble Minister to provide appropriate support to address the concerns which ultimately should be seen as beneficial to national interest.

We also had an opportunity to meet Shri Rajesh Verma, Secretary Corporate Affairs as well as Joint Secretaries MCA Shri Manoj Pandey, Shri Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh and Shri K.V.R. Murty.

These meetings provided us the opportunity to discuss our professional matters with the dignitaries and reinstate our position as a partner in nation building. Two virtual meetings with the Secretary MCA and Jt. Secretary MCA were also held to apprise them about the networking guidelines and the proposed amendments in Industrial Training framework.

Academic equivalence to the CA Qualification

The University Grants Commission (UGC) has granted the academic equivalence to the Chartered Accountancy qualification with its Post Graduate degree in all respects. The ICAI has been constantly pursuing with the UGC for the same. An Expert Committee was constituted last year by UGC and the ICAI had submitted a ‘Concept Paper elaborating the ICAI scheme of education and training and its details’ to the Committee. The UGC considered the recommendation of the Committee and resolved that Chartered Accountancy qualification be considered equivalent to Post Graduate course.

Grant of equivalence to the CA course with the PG degree will make our members eligible to appear in National Eligibility Test conducted by UGC and pursue Ph.D. in all the Indian universities across India. The recognition will also open up the international market for various Masters courses in foreign countries for ICAI members, thereby bringing the global acclamation and recognition of Indian CAs worldwide.

Post Budget Memoranda

Pursuant to the presentation of the Union Budget 2021-2022 in the Parliament by the Finance Minister on 1st Feb, 2021, various steps were taken to formalise representation on the issues arising out of various proposals of Union Budget 2021-2022 and submit them to Ministry of Finance. ICAI Committees accumulated, collected and considered suggestions to finalise Post Budget Memoranda, 2021 covering direct and Indirect taxations.

Sustainability Reporting Maturity Model

ICAI is working relentlessly to develop the culture of accurate and reliable non-financial reporting, develop reporting metrics for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), benchmarking sustainability disclosures, strengthening assurance frameworks for nonfinancial information, and capacity building of the profession. I am pleased to inform that to strengthen the sustainability reporting in the country, ICAI has developed “Sustainability Reporting Maturity Model (SRMM) Version 1.0” with an objective to bring out a comprehensive scoring tool based on report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting constituted by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) in August, 2020. This Sustainability Reporting Maturity Model (SRMM) would form the foundation for benchmarking sustainability reporting of Indian corporates. This Model would on one hand facilitate the corporates to assess their sustainability maturity level and at the same time will also aid in improving their scores with the availability of this easy-to-use tool thereby achieving the vision of sustainable ecosystem across the country. I am sure, our members will play an important role in helping the organizations increase their level of preparedness on the sustainability parameters.

Highly Successful Campus Placement Programme

It is really heartening that the recent placement programme of ICAI is making newer records as organisations are selecting newly qualified Chartered Accountants in large numbers. The process of recruitment and selections at nine major centres got over recently. With the interviews at ten smaller centres are yet to commence, a good number of job offers have been made. The summary as on 23rd March, 2021 is given below:

Campus Placement Programme Campus Feb-Mar 2021
Number of Candidates Registered 7226
Total no. of organisations at all centres 92
Number of Jobs Offered by the participating companies at Bigger Centres More than 4041
Highest salary (cost to company) offered for domestic posting 25 LPA (Power Finance Corporation Ltd)
Highest salary (cost to company) offered for International posting 32.76 LPA (Tolaram Group)

This accomplishment is in spite of the situation of lockdown. While number of job offers are very encouraging, immense opportunities exist in practice as well. Many young Chartered Accountants are taking up jobs in industry, they should certainly weigh their options vis-à-vis practice. Per se, Chartered Accountancy profession is centred around practice that also brings a thrilling and satisfying experience. The professional opportunities exist in multiple areas of auditing, finance, taxation laws, corporate laws, insolvency, valuation, management consultancy and so on. As a small and medium practitioner, newly qualified CAs you may also avail many of the facilities available to the Chartered Accountants. Banks are also offering easy finance, that can be used to meet initial costs and set up office and start own practise.

Chartered Accountancy is a well revered profession. In fact, several persons in society hold a strong view that developing career and becoming professionally successful should be the most important objective in our lives on account of fierce competition that is present in the modern fast paced society. By virtue of the success it brings, Chartered Accountancy, a sound career option, is considered by many in the society as a means to secure future. Chartered Accountancy like several other professions can be very demanding on the time and efforts. While it is important to be successful in our profession and become financially secure, it is equally important to live and enjoy life, spend time with family and friends and have a fulfilled life.

A concept that has gained currency in recent past is having work-life balance which explains the ideal situation in which a professional can split time and energy between work and other activities related to social aspects. Through proper planning and time management you can easily make time for family, friends, self, spirituality, and other social activities, in addition to the effectively meeting out demands of the workplace. What you do is a matter of personal choice, but you must take care of your body and mind in best interest of yourself and your family.

Before I conclude, I wish you all a very happy, colourful and cheerful Holi. With Holika, let’s burn the evil & negativity around us and spread new hope, positivity, progress & happiness. While celebrating, please keep the social distancing norms and government guidelines in mind.

Stay safe, stay healthy. Best wishes.

CA. Nihar N. Jambusaria
President, ICAI
New Delhi, 23rd March, 2021
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