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Thursday, Aug 29, 2002

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Day of the JAC-calls

D. Murali

THE current major concern of some of Chennai's accountants is not how to ensure better disclosure of accounts, or achieve a higher standard of professional excellence. Nor assist in corporate revival, or think of gaining a foothold in the `sustainable development' debate. They have formed a group of sorts going by the name `action committee of CAs for level playing field' — a joint AC, say, made of convenors and advisors, that is worried about the big accounting firms inching into Indian soil. For most CAs who would be listening to passionate speeches on September 1 at a planned convention — which seeks to culminate in a "memorandum to the Government to demand justice on the basis of our demonstrated strength, the moral weight of our cause and national value" — WTO commitments, surreptitious surrogacy, and convergence of individual interest with national interest are going to be alien stuff.

They would rather be happier with compliance tips for the latest standards in accounting or auditing, tax cases that can save money for their clients, and new avenues to supplement their revenues.

The new JAC-in-the-box is fighting the devil of invaders who could end up as marauders of the desi craft of debits and credits. The `illegal' nature of the phoren firms pulling the carpet from under the feet of gullible locals would be seen by many as wasting energy at a wrong forum, asthere is the law of the land to take care of illegalities.

It is easy to energise mobs with talks laced with patriotic flavour, but sceptic CAs would see the attempt as a weak effort to steal the thunder, an off-key rendering of `sare jahaan se achcha, accountant hamara'.

Some say the hulla-gulla is for bringing together people on a common cause. But more appropriate options exist. Such as getting CAs to swear to a tailor-made pledge on the lines of the Hippocratic oath, hauling questionable book practices over the coals, dissociating from deviant client demands that eat into the vitals of the Indian financial system, or insuring against professional liability claims. Or, in the least, a team to go on Veerappan's trail.

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