| I have received very encouraging response to the last letter that I wrote to you in these pages, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the respondents for the views that they have expressed, some personally, and some through mail. I, am glad to see that members have already started thinking about the position of the accountance profession in general, and the ways that are open to us, at this juncture, in India in particular.
|As is the way of the world, after I wrote to you last, there have been some more developments, and some more dust has been raised. However, as far as the total profession is concerned, it may really turn out to be a storm in a tea cup. I know that this is a loaded statement and I support my stand by saying that although some of these things are unprecedented, nevertheless they relate to one firm and one company. If we take the totality of the profession as far as membership is concerned, and the totality of their clientele, then the case(s) is not of the importance granted to it. I would, however, urge that all of us take lessons from what has happened - just to ensure that we do things in the right way. We need to discharge our duties in ethical and prescribed manners, obeying, at the same time our moral commandments to protect those who work with us, our partners and out younger colleagues.
|While this has been happening in India, other things havebeen happening in the world that are of great future importance for the profession globally. I had previously referred to the Sarbanes-Oxley Bills. These have now been passed in the US. The result, as expected, is greated control on the auditors, as also on the companies. Perhaps in the US, it was necessary. Here in India, we need to give our existing system its full due and therefore must hasten slowly. This is because, again, as I have already remarked, we have sufficient checks and balances in place because of our existing statutory regime. Nevertheless, we need to be conscious of the global ramifications of the US decisions because our members have begun offering their services in other countries and the new regime(s) will impact on these efforts of theirs.
|In essence, therefore, there is nothing very worrisome. The Government is as conscious of the long had of the existing legal regime as we are, and the only thing is that the regime may be enforced more strictly. This in any case is what we ourselves have been pushing for, and stricter enforecement of the laws will only strengthen our hands; it is not, as in the US, the other way around. And that is something that all of us need to understand very clearly.
|Also important to understand and appreciate in this context is the intention of the Government behind setting up of the Naresh Chandra Committee. Among other issues, the committee will also debate upon the whole issue of the 'super regulation'. While there is no doubt that this directly expresses the concerns of the Government and its reaction to some of the events that have taken place in India recently, I say to those who are agitated over the constitution of the Committee itself - this committee is primarily concerned with corporate ethics, and the restoration of values in business - to put it Naresh Chandra Committee. We must realize that this is a national cause, and it is our bounden duty to bring the needed changes in the business environment; and therefore, we need to contribute our best to see that this Committee recommends what in turn is best for the business environment. The Committee's Terms of Reference also encompass the auditor-auditee relationship, and the role that the remuneration of the auditor plays in the whole matter of auditor independence. The Committee will submit its Report within a month and a half, to the Finance Ministry. I am a member of the committee and will endeavor to deal with all the issues in the best interests of our members.
|While on the subject let me also share with you the fact that as far as Government is concerned, there is a high degree of clarity is all on the positive side. Recently, I met the Vice-President of India, and also the Chief Minsters of Assam, Orissa, and Goa. Everywhere that I have been, the refrain has been the same -tell the government how the chartered accountants can directly help in the economic resurgence of the nation and the states. Dear Colleagues, if situation was really as bad as our some of the doubting Cassandras would like to have it, would the heads of the state governments and even a person as exalted as the Vice-President of India have said these things?
|In Goa, during my discussions with the Chief Minster, the CM appreciated our point of view and agreed to withdraw a stipualation that has been causing much heartburning to our members there. So far, they were required to register themselves with the Sales Tax authorities for purposes of practice. Now that stipulation will be withdrawn. In Kerala, the government is eager to let the chartered accountants go to work on the local self-government institutions, as well as on the government - run transport sector. In Madhya Pradesh also, in a meeting with a large number of the most senior Officers of the Government, clear indications have been given to us that chartered accountants would be involved in a number of areas, starting from local self government to health and forestry. We need to work on these opportunities, and prove our worth, and the value of our contributions, not only to the government(s), but also to the society at large. That, Dear Colleagues, would be the best vindication of what we are, and we stand for.
|Take a simple thinig. Every time a Branch or a Regional Council organises a large program, invariably there are senior Ministers of the State Government to inaugurate it. Many a time the Governor of the State himself comes to inaugurate suh functions. Is this not a clear indication of the government's support to our community? If, after all this, we still choose to worry about our image in the Government, then, I am afraid, we ourselves have to be blamed. We are not an Army; we can not discipline every hour of our members' lives, because unlike any army, the price of conformity is not a salary from the institution. In our case, the price of conformity is our own attachment to the
|I would also like to inform you that the Peer Review Board has held several meetings in the mean while. As a run up to the implementation of Peer Review from next year, the Board is now concerned with laying down prescriptions for both the reviewers and reviewees. The Board has prepared its Draft Manual, which will now be debated upon. An empanelment procedure for Reviewers has also been drawn up and now awaints debate and ratification.
|I had earlier informed you in these pages about the decision of the Council to set up a Financial Reports Review Panel. The FRRP has now been constituted and will start functioning within a month's time.
|On the 2nd of September, the Institute is organizing a seminar on 'Accounting Profession in UK and India - contemporary issues' at Delhi. Among the august speakers will be the President of the Director of the UK Review Board. Discussions will take place on a range of issues from Ethics and regulation of the Profession to professional opportunities in India and the UK
|Dear colleagues, this the time for us to show our mettle. Everywhere that we are and every place where we work, our one-point program, must be to provide such a high quality of service that in the face of that, any reports and gossip would automatically be trashed by the society at large. Let us join hands to bring about that kind of a movement in India
31st August, 2002
Nil actum reputa si quid superset agendum
(Don't consider that anything has been done if anything is left to be done)