Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Thursday, Apr 08, 2004
Columns - Account Speak
Accounting is too serious a job for part-timers
Official reasoning is that they want "to ensure that the practice of profession is undertaken by the members who are able to devote full time, to do justice with the complexities of the assignments and the attended responsibilities." Therefore, "the Council felt that the need of the hour is to strengthen the profession and to uphold the quality of attest function, performed by the members." And so, they cut out the part-timers.
Even as the full-timers are rejoicing, there is gloom in the other camp. "There are sufficient numbers of fulltime practising chartered accountants", says the ICAI president and the new restriction would have no adverse effect, he feels. That means the practice cake would be divided among only the full-timers, leaving the ones who were all along doing part-time to concentrate on their `other occupation'.
The ICAI is still working on the `modalities' for implementing the new rule, but at least two escape routes have been provided: "Teaching assignment(s) for 25 hours in a week in a recognised university and/or college or institution affiliated to a university set up under law; and consultancy services." However, these people too "will not be entitled to undertake any attest function(s)."
Look at the positive side. First, if the ban is hitting you, see how much you'd save by not renewing Certificate of Practice. Second, see if you can call your `other occupation' a consultancy. When public relations executives can become `perception managers' or `reputation controllers', and companies can have chief mentors, chief talkers, and chief listeners, why should you not think of a decent name using `consultant' as a key word.
A friend tells me about a `kindergarten consultant' whose business card describes him as a CA, but he can get your kid into LKG of a tough-to-enter school.
At times the `other occupation' can be more paying than the main, but the ICAI is very clear that its practising members should be fully devoted to their attest role, even if it means being poorer in the process. After a series of corporate scandals, professional accountants have come under so much fire that in the process of regulating their work, it appears that Institute and other such bodies may end up strangulating the profession.
To add to their problem, accountants are serious doubters, by nature, as you would have noticed behind their bifocals. As a joke goes round in professional circuit, a tax query was whether one came under economic criteria if a relative gifted him with a mobile phone that was yet to be activated.
Similarly, if owning a four-wheeler is one of the hooks for filing a return, what happens if the assessee's car has been in the open shed for years on end and one wheel is, in fact, missing.
Therefore, it is quite likely that CAs who don't want to lose their CoP, may like to make doubly sure if what they propose to do would come under the mischief of `other occupation.'
Such as a query that was rumoured to have landed at the expert advisory committee: "Whether selling old periodicals to the neighbourhood raddiwalah would constitute infringement of the full-time practice stipulation." It is told that long deliberations took place till finally somebody remembered what he overheard at the confessional: "Can I smoke when I pray?" Answer: "NO!" Second question: "Can I pray when I smoke?" Answer: "How nice!" Expert opinion, therefore, was: "Practising CAs can sell old newspapers, but not vice versa."
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