CA Abhay Mehta has nearly three decades of experience in audit and assurance, company law and business advisory services. Recently, he was elected as the president of Bombay Chartered Accountants’ Society (BCAS) for the year 2021-22. Mehta has been a member of various forums and special groups of ICAI that advised policymakers as well. In an interview with The Free Press Journal's Jescilia Karayamparambil, Mehta shares his vision for BCAS, the largest body of Chartered Accountants (CAs) in India and his view on taxation.
Edited excerpts from the interview:
What is your vision for BCAS?
We have worked out a theme around which BCAS will serve its members. The theme is ESG (Empowering, Scaling and Globalising). For the empowerment of our members, we are trying to create a platform for networking of the members associated with BCAS all over India. We want to ensure that CAs are not merely viewed as tax advisors, but are viewed as business advisors. Accordingly, we will work out webinars and workshops, which will enable our members to know about ancillary laws and not just taxation law.
In the scaling aspect, we are looking at tie-ups with local CA chapters in cities and other states. This will allow us to advocate the policies which will be important for the industries at large.
To achieve the globalising aspect, we will use our resources to hunt international speakers. Due to the ongoing pandemic and as most of the activities have online, getting international speakers will not be difficult. These sessions will help our members gain more knowledge and also our members can share their expertise.
There has been a growing focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance). How do you see businesses becoming more aware of ESG?
Now worldwide, 50-60 per cent of the funds are looking at ESG companies to invest in. Thus, there is a lot of awareness around it among businesses. In addition, the Indian government has come up with sustainable development goals. So, those have to be gradually adhered to.
Meanwhile, SEBI introduced Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR) which the top 1,000 listed companies will have to comply with. Such reporting will create more awareness.
Awareness level is gradually building up. Everyone is aware of the ESGs and CSRs. But how to guide businesses is still a new and upcoming area that will flourish in future (for CA professionals). The role of CAs can be very critical in that. That is what we (BCAS) understand and that is how we build our programmes also.
What are the concerns of businesses and CA professionals on the taxation front?
On the new website front, the professionals have already shared the suggestion on the teething issue.
In the case of taxation, there are a few onerous issues that need to be addressed too, especially TDS (Tax deduction at source) and TCS (Tax collected at source). Those issues are becoming onerous for businesses and taxation professionals to comply with. We have presented our suggestions and are seeking relaxation here.
How do you think the pandemic impacted society, especially tax professionals?
Everyone is aware of the suffering COVID had on mankind -- that is the negative side of the pandemic. The other side of the pandemic has been technology.
On the technological front, the way businesses have risen to occasion will change the way business will be performed in the future. Similarly, our professionals have also risen to the occasion and have been able to deliver through remote working. There are opportunities that will be explored going forward by professionals as well. Technology will improve the quality of deliverables too.