Thank you for the trust placed on me by electing me as the President of the Society. I will try my best to fulfil the expectations of the members. My detailed acceptance speech is published elsewhere in the Journal and reflects the annual plan focussing on the prioritisation of BCAS activities to align with the member expectations from the Society.
The month of July, named after the Roman General Julius Caesar, is a busy month for most chartered accountants. Immediately after exchanging festive greetings of the CA Day, the action begins. The month is flooded with a series of tax and compliance deadlines. With a mandatory late filing fee for personal income tax returns introduced for the first time, the intensity of work for tax practitioners had increased manifold. Considering various representations, the Government did it well to extend the due date by one month. However, do such ad hoc last minute extensions help or do they only increase the agony of those who religiously planned their activities and filed the returns in the stipulated time? It is obvious that such extensions can result in cluttering of personal income tax returns with the tax audit returns. In effect, such extensions become a ‘curse in disguise’.
At BCAS, July was a month full of activities. The Founding Day Lecture by CA. Nilesh Shah on “India - 2019 & Beyond” was full of empirical data, wit and in-depth analysis. Two lecture meetings, a curtain raiser event on “Internal Audit – Rising to the Expectations”, an interactive panel discussion on “permanent establishments”, numerous study circle and study group meetings – all of them received good attendance and participation. The month saw release of four publications on diversified topics. The Society was also active in making various representations under the direct tax law, GST law, FEMA, etc. A detailed report of various activities conducted by the Society in July is available in the Society News Feature. The momentum of activities will continue in the month of August as well, the details whereof are available elsewhere in the Journal.
July was also a month where we decided for the first time to open up the soft copy of the BCAJ to general readers without login. This was a part of a onetime outreach program to increase both the subscriber base and the advertisement opportunities. The Journal Committee and the Editorial Board undertake substantial efforts, month after month, every month to provide the readers content which is crisp, in-depth and extremely qualitative and relevant. It is now for each of us to make sure that the fruits of these efforts reach a much wider spectrum of users.
July will always be remembered as the month when the landmark indirect tax reform called GST was introduced. This being the first anniversary, it was all the more special! While the reform had its own teething troubles and difficulties, some of which continue to exist even today, what is important is the positive impact that it has created for the industry as a whole. Many surveys were conducted last month, including one by the BCAS. Most of them gave a ‘thumbs up’ to this extremely controversial reform.
July is also a month which brings rains in abundance. While rains bring in a respite from the hot sultry weather and envelop Mother Nature with a lush green cover, the story in metropolitan cities like Mumbai is very different. The rains invariably bring to forefront the crumbling infrastructure of the city – be it the potholes on the roads, the inadequacy of the drainage system resulting in waterlogging, the falling bridges, miserably inadequate public transport and totally chaotic situation of traffic, the average Mumbaikar bears it all and emerges as a winner. While from a citizen’s perspective that is the spiritto emulate, from the Government’s perspective, a lot of introspection and corrective action may be required.
July also started with anxiety on the face of lakhs of students who aspire to be future chartered accountants. After all, the results for all the levels of examinations were due this month. Ultimately, when the results were presented, the feelings of anxiety were replaced with moments of joy or disappointment. My congratulations to all the students who cleared the examinations. Enjoy your moments of glory and get set for the next phase of your journey either as an article student or as a qualified professional. After all, an examination/result is not a destination, but merely a milestone in an eternal quest for knowledge. The Society invites all freshly qualified professionals to become its members. Through its time tested volunteering model, a strong ethical fabric and the unwavering faith of its existing membership, the Society will leave no stone unturned in grooming these young professionals into leaders of tomorrow.
As we move closer towards the Independence Day, it is time perhaps to look at the attribute of ‘independence’ afresh, especially in the context of some of the recent happenings in our profession. Each profession offers a distinct value proposition to its stakeholders. Unlike many other professions, in my view, the unique value proposition of the profession of chartered accountancy is the assurance offered by the profession about the truth and fairness of the financial statements. Any compromise on independence, either in form or in mind, can severely compromise the quality of this assurance and therefore independence is identified as an inextricable attribute of the audit profession. It is for each of us to introspect and examine whether we have been able to not only maintain the highest standards of independence but also portray the same to all the stakeholders. We may like to defend the few incidents as aberrations but we cannot make the mistake of disregarding them. Think we must brainstorm, we must and then execute a proper action plan to transform the profession. I would be keen to know your inputs on the steps that we as individuals and the Society as a collective vehicle could take to restore the pride towards the profession.
The profession also cannot be oblivious to the rapid strides in technology and the impact that it is likely to have on the profession. Many professions and products have vanished since they were unable to keep pace with the changing times and technologies. Adaptation is the key to survival and I am sure our profession will adapt to the changes in the landscape. The Society will line up a series of events which address this need of the profession.I would be glad to receive any feedback or suggestions on the functioning of the Society, events and publications that you would like to witness, or any other matter concerning the profession.
Feel free to write to me on firstname.lastname@example.org
With kind regards
CA. Sunil Gabhawalla