India will have an accounting firm that is equivalent to the world’s top firms, and the proposed amendments in laws governing chartered accountancy, cost accountancy and company secretary will “facilitate” that, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Wednesday.
Replying to the debate on the Chartered Accountants, the Cost and Works Accountants and the Company Secretaries (Amendment) Bill, 2021 in Lok Sabha, Sitharaman said, “We are hopeful that India will certainly have a Big Four equivalent company, and these kinds of amendments that we are bringing, are going to facilitate that.”
The four major global accounting firms — Deloitte LLP, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Ernst & Young and KPMG — are known as the Big Four.
Sitharaman said the Bill would bring chartered accountancy, cost accountancy and company secretary on a single platform. “After these become professionally better, it will provide a good pace to the development of the country.”
The Bill seeks to amend the existing Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, the Cost and Works Accountants Act, 1959 and the Company Secretaries Act 1980. The Bill is aimed at providing mechanism for dealing with cases of misconduct in the three professional institutions — the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the Institute of Cost Accountants of India and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.
The Bill is also aimed at enhancing “accountability and transparency” by providing for audit of accounts of the institutes by a firm of chartered accountants to be appointed annually from the panel of auditors maintained by the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India.
Sitharaman, who also holds charge of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, dispelled the apprehensions expressed by Opposition members regarding the autonomy of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, the Institute of Cost Accountants of India and the Institute of Company Secretaries of India.
She said there was no proposal at all to have a single legislation for all the three institutes. There are three separate Acts, and they will be governed by their respective separate Acts, she said.
“This is just a consolidated amendment Bill. Why should it be in one Bill? It is because while there are three different Acts, largely their wordings and the spirit of the flow of the Acts are comparable and, therefore, the amendments have been brought in to make sure that there is a greater comparability between the functioning of the three institutes. But the amendments are being brought in as one integrated Bill,” she said.
Elaborating reasons for bringing the amendments, Sitharaman said, “These amendments have not been brought in as it is, without much work. For quite some time, different committees have gone into them, the recent one being the Meenakshi Datta Ghosh Committee, which had come up with several recommendations. It was formed in April 2017, and it had given its recommendations in September 2017. Many of the recommendations given by the Meenakshi Datta Ghosh Committee, with minor tweaking, have been brought in through this Bill.”
The House negated all the amendments moved by Opposition members, and the Bill was passed by a voice vote.