Surfing the net one evening, I found an interesting quote:
Contentment is the highest gain, Good Company the highest course, Enquiry the highest wisdom, and Peace the highest enjoyment
How true, how true... but I realised it’s even more relevant if you are a highly respected and eagerly awaited Journal and now on its way to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the prestigious BCA Journal starting this April.
It has been very exciting and eventful five decades that have gone by; and BCAJ has captured the essence of a growing India as it oscillated between turbulence and smooth sailing. I see BCAJ as a tireless marathon runner striding effortlessly as it straddles time, with well researched and incisive articles for tax and accounting professionals, both in practice and industry.
BCAJ has also been in a way like a compass, pointing us all in the right direction with its vast spectrum of analytical articles and updates, on diverse subjects such as Direct Tax, Indirect Tax, International Tax, Accounting & Auditing and Information Technology. Keeping pace with the requirements of the ‘digi-gen’, E-journal access has been made available with the added advantage of a repository spanning 17 years.
I would like to extend hearty congratulations to the entire team behind the Journal – past and present on behalf of all its readers. It is their long hours of painstaking efforts that have made the BCAJ a solid foundation and a beacon of inspiration to all! I wish the team all the very best in the years ahead in taking the journal to the next level.
Last week around thirty thousand farmers marched to Mumbai to press for their various demands to the Government. What was remarkable is that these farmers protested with dignity and discipline. On the last lap of their journey they walked almost 15 hours to avoid disrupting the students from taking their final exams. What’s commendable was the pain the farmers took to ensure no pain to the citizens of Mumbai. The farmers dispersed as quietly as they came, but not before getting written assurances.
When one looks at the statistics, the enormity of the problem dawns with tremendous clarity. We have 90 million families or around 54% of Indians engaged in agriculture, who after toiling relentlessly day after day, generate a mere 14% of the nation’s GDP. Worse still, the farmers seem to be on a lose-lose treadmill. If their crops fail, they have little to sell and no profit. And in case of a bumper crop, the price gets depressed, curtailing any serious profit. I believe some serious thinking is required to go far beyond merely providing remedial aid. Innovative solutions need to be chalked out in tandem with modern technology to transform their lives and raise their living standards.
Grappling with the challenge of employment generation, the government has focused on giving an impetus to the services sector. Accounting for over 55% of the nation’s GDP, the service sector has the possibility of stimulating domestic growth as well as winning lucrative export opportunities. In this direction, twelve Champion Sectors in services have been identified and a fund of Rs. 5,000 crore has been proposed to accelerate support initiatives.
Accounting & Finance Services is one of the 12 identified Champion Sectors where the Government is promoting development to realize their true potential, increased productivity and competitiveness which will further boost exports of diverse services from India. However, experts feel that “there are miles to go...” before this sector can harness the global opportunity. Being a regulated profession with a licensing regime globally; there is a need to enter into many more MoUs with foreign accounting institutes and mutually recognise each other’s qualifications. The Indian accounting education system needs to be revamped to match the challenges of globalisation. And lastly the curriculum is outdated and needs to be in sync with market realities. Technology and new economy will impact our profession immensely. Probably curriculum needs to capture that impact in coming times. In fact curricula need to be futuristically and not reactively structured if the profession has to meet these challenges. These impediments need to be sorted if Indian accounting firms are to transit from back end transactional processing work to big ticket contracts.
Related to this, the Hon. Supreme Court recently in a case ordered the Government to set up a panel to suggest changes in laws to regulate multi-national accounting firms. The Bench ruled that the panel to also look into the framework needed to enforce Sections 25 and 29 of the CA Act and the statutory Code of Conduct for Chartered Accountants needs to be revisited appropriately. The Panel will also look into the need of an exclusive oversight body for the auditors’ profession because of conflict of interest of auditors with consultants.
The PNB scam has opened quite a can of worms and has been in the news right from the day it broke. The general public is outraged at the audacity and arrogance of the key accused. They are furious with the bank officials who colluded or were scapegoats in the racket. They are upset with RBI and market regulators for not unearthing the fraud...and the politicians who allegedly allowed the swindlers to scoot with the loot. The auditors too are being investigated and castigated for not raising a red flag. Action and measures have been initiated by the government and RBI to prevent a recurrence. Even ICAI has demonstrated its commitment to discipline errant CAs.
Representations to the Government on key issues have always been taken up by the Society and it is regular in interacting with the regulators. Recently BCAS along with the CA Associations of Lucknow, Karnataka and Ahmedabad made an appeal to make statutory branch audits of PSB banks more stringent. In a joint representation to RBI it has listed several important issues/recommendations that need to be urgently addressed by RBI and others for an effective audit coming up for the year ended March 2018.
The World Bank in its bi-annual India Development Update has been mildly critical of GST, calling it one of the most complex with the second highest tax rate in the world. Comparing 115 countries, the report says as many as 49 have a single slab; while 28 use two slabs and five (including India) use four non-zero slabs. The Update also points out to the positive impulse expected from India’s novel GST system which, is likely to improve the domestic flow of goods and services, contribute to the formalization of the economy and sustainably enhance growth.
Despite the recent momentum, attaining a growth rate of 8 percent and higher on a sustained basis will require addressing several structural challenges. India needs to durably recover its two lagging engines of growth – private investments and exports - while maintaining its hard-won macroeconomic stability. Crucial steps in this process include cleaning up banks’ balance sheets, realizing the expected growth and fiscal dividend from the GST, and continuing the integration into the global economy.
As we start the new fiscal year each member has jotted new ideas, new goals and new budgets and will be translating them into action points. What is important to note is that the digital revolution is cascading across every sphere of practice causing widespread disruption besides redefining clients’ expectations. For the professionals of the future, the ability to adapt their skills to the changing needs will be critical. The time it will take for skills to become irrelevant will shrink. There will be work for people with growth mindsets, but those with fixed mindsets will be replaced with machines. The skills of yesterday will be obsolete tomorrow. The future workforce need to align its skillsets to keep pace with time
As sunshine energy and a green environment become increasingly the priority of our lives and nation, we at BCAS have decided to discontinue our hard copy version of the monthly Newsletter. Its content is being majorly covered in the BCAJ and regular updates regarding upcoming programmes are accessible on our website and through email. The VP Communique and a snapshot of programs of the Society will be sent as a e-copy each month. We do hope our members will understand our responsibility to practice green initiatives, instead of merely talking about them.
With the start of the new fiscal year, I look forward to getting more feedback from all of you about the opportunities and challenges we should tackle in the months ahead.
Feel free to write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org
With kind regards
CA. Narayan Pasari