Priyanka Chopra, the internationally acclaimed actress recounted how an American Indian once remarked to her “Thank you for making us relevant”. I take this opportunity to extend my deep gratitude to all members for electing and accepting me as the 69th President of the BCAS…but more importantly I want you all to assist me in being relevant and useful in my role as President. I count on all of your support and suggestions to make the Society more visible and an opinion leader that’s more audible and respected in financial, economic and political circles.
For the benefit of the many thousands of members who could not make it to the Society’s AGM, I would like to share some thoughts from my incoming speech (printed elsewhere in this journal). The theme was on “Building Bridges”, as a way to go ahead successfully. We need, as members of BCAS, to constantly keep building bridges…not only internally with different members and committees, but also externally with other associations, bodies, organizations and the government at all levels.
A bridge is a structure built over an obstacle to provide connectivity and accessibility. Bridges unite us and bring us together on the same page; enabling us to understand each other's challenges. With bridges, come two way exchange of ideas and thoughts…a dialogue to help us to figure out how we can collaborate with each other and grow mutually.
Having worked extensively within the society at different levels over the last two decades, I suggest that we concentrate our efforts in building four key bridges. I believe as we transform, we grow! So TRANSFORMATION is high on my list of priorities. I want to focus on increasing the resources of BCAS and one way is by expanding the membership of our Society. Let’s target to reach the10000 mark in this year, then to add greater momentum to our transformation and growth, we need to have more youth in the BCAS. I think YUVA SHAKTI will be the key to invigorating the Society. We must encourage young talent to participate and take up larger responsibility in the functioning of the Society.
DIGITIZATION has been happening across the world, in India and even in the BCAS. We need to step up the pace of digitization so that we are better empowered to manage our resources and conduct our business. In addition to being able to disseminate knowledge faster, we would be able to translate information into action more effectively. In today’s highly competitive business environment, NETWORKING is the oxygen for success! Networking is an avenue that I feel we should use more often; be it the government, corporate or fraternity level, we need to step up our efforts.
These are just some of the ideas that I have put together to get started. I appeal to all members to freely offer your suggestions, so that collectively we can transform BCAS for renewed growth.
The 68th Annual General Meeting of BCAS was made special by the Guest Speaker, Shri Piyush Goyal, Union Minister of State for Power, Coal, New & Renewable Energy and Mines. In his talk titled “Energising India – Changing Paradigm for Professionals”, he invited Chartered Accountants to participate actively in the successful implementation of the Goods & Services Tax (GST) by ensuring that their clients do not engage in profiteering.
In his talk, liberally punctuated with anecdotes and humour, he referred to GST as the “biggest transformation that our nation has seen in our 70 years of independence”. He added that it was redeeming for the CA community that it was introduced on July 1, which is also celebrated as ‘CA Day’.
Shri Goyal, a top ranked Chartered Accountant gently warned his fellow professionals against tax evasion. “I request you not to evade taxes yourself and not to help your clients evade tax. Every time you do that, remember you are depriving the poor and needy of that resource,” the minister cautioned the CAs.
I believe there is considerable merit in what our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi said at the Foundation Day of the ICAI on July 1, after launching a new course. After defining the scenario in India with figures, he appealed to the conscience of CAs, earnestly requesting them not to support the menace of black money. He urged them to give the right advice to their clients so that black money and corruption are kept in check. Shri Modi went on to tell CAs that their signature is more powerful than the PM’s; and that the government believes in the accounts signed by them. “Your signature” he added, “carries immense faith, please do not break that trust that is placed in you.”
The Prime Minister lamented the fact that among the Big Four accounting firms in the world there is no Indian firm. He urged the CAs to think big; saying that he hoped by 2022, there will be a Big Eight, where four of the firms will be Indian. As a follow-up to his address, Prime Minister Modi also sent out personalized emails to over two lakh chartered accountants exhorting them “to pull their weight in combating corruption and black money.” The networking platform which BCAS provides to its members has earlier enabled many a professionals and firms to come together. This year “Networking” is one of the agenda which we have set to exactly promote this idea of enabling collaboration amongst the various professionals which can ultimately help us realise the dream of some large Indian Firms. Earlier also at BCAS we have experimented with this idea of networking conclaves and time is now ripe to carry out such activities with more vigour.
Shri Ram Nath Kovind has emerged victorious to become the 14th President of India. The NDA candidate, Shri Kovind had the support of forty political parties winning 65% of the votes. The 71-year old President is the second Dalit to get a five year term at Rashtrapati Bhavan, the country’s highest office. Hailing from Paraunkh village in Bihar, a farmer’s son, President Kovind’s journey to Raisina Hill has been quiet and unexpected.
Unassuming Shri Kovind is a law graduate and has even cleared the civil services exam but did not join. He practiced as a lawyer in the High Court and later in the Supreme Court and has been the government’s standing counsel for over a decade. He is well equipped to be President having vast experience of the inner workings of the Indian democracy as a two-term Rajya Sabha MP and Governor of Bihar. He has a spotlessly clean record and is known for his impeccable integrity.
He has devoted his life to public service, working for the poor and marginalized. In his first speech after being elected President, Kovind recalled his impoverished childhood and pledged to represent all those struggling to make a living. On behalf of the BCAS, I congratulate President Ram Nath Kovind and assure him of all our support in the years ahead.
In yet another well-thought out strategy to ensure tax compliance, the IT Department declared under Section 139AA of the IT Act that linking the PAN and Aadhaar is mandatory for filing tax returns. The Supreme Court threw its weight behind this move, upholding this section. This linkage aims at de-duplication, as many unscrupulous people have multiple PAN cards. Predictably, there was an outcry with many protests citing privacy issues. As a result the Supreme Court has set up a nine judge bench to examine whether the right to privacy is a fundamental right under the Indian Constitution. Let us wait for the decision.
Resenting the measure to link numbers, a large section of the public has remained defiant and has not done so. Only 25% of citizens have linked their PAN and Aadhaar…out of 32.41 crore PAN Cards only 8.19 crore have been linked. Some have dug in their heels and have decided to wait it out till the court delivers its judgement. Others have declared they will snail mail their returns to the Central Processing Unit instead of filing it online.
The good news is that the tax base has widened to 62.6 million at the end of the last financial year from almost 40 million. This is the result of demonetization and the numerous measures and schemes offered by the government to come clean and avoid sleepless nights. Speaking at the Income Tax Day celebrations in New Delhi, Finance Minister Jaitley said that a deterrent had to be used to prevent anonymous people from hiding ill-gotten wealth; and that the PAN-Aadhaar linkage was one such an anti-evasion measure. He also added that tax rates need to become more reasonable, but for that to happen the tax base needs to be expanded.
Before I sign off, I would like to thank you all once again and look forward to your suggestions and support. Feel free to write to me on email@example.com
Wishing you and your near and dear ones a Happy 71st Independence Day !!
With kind regards
CA Narayan Pasari