CA Rajkumar Adukia, Chairman of the Committee for Cooperatives and NPO Sector and Committee on Information Technology of ICAI, in an interview with Kartik Sharma, says that eGovernance in cooperative societies’ management must be a priority
What does The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) do and how wide is its reach?
The ICAI is a statutory body established under the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949 for the regulation of the profession of Chartered Accountants in India. In the last 66 years, ICAI has achieved recognition as a premier accounting body, not only in the country but also globally, for its contribution in the fields of education, professional development, maintenance of high accounting, auditing and ethical standards. Now, ICAI is the second largest accounting body in the whole world. ICAI is a partner in nation building. It has five regions with 148 branches regulating more than 2,50,000 members across India.
How does ICAI contribute to nation building?
ICAI, as a part of its role in aiding proactive process towards better governance, is called upon to interact with various regulatory/ statutory authorities on issues of interest touching upon the profession and otherwise. In this process, the Institute, at regular intervals, provides technical advice and necessary inputs on the matters of economic relevance to various ministries and bodies like CAG, RBI, SEBI, CBDT, etc. Following the initiatives undertaken by ICAI, several departments of the Central and state governments including the Department of Posts, municipal corporations, etc., have approached the Institute for utilising the services of Chartered Accountants to advice on matters pertaining to economy, expenditure and development of control mechanism over public funds and alike.
What is the vision of ICAI for 2030?
ICAI envisions becoming the world’s leading accounting body by playing a predominant role in setting world class standards in identified service areas and developing thought leadership and research that addresses concerns of countries, developed, developing and under‐developed.
Can you highlight the role of Committee for the Cooperatives and NPO Sectors of ICAI?
The Committee for Cooperatives and NPO Sectors is a non‐standing committee of ICAI. The Committee has been constituted to identify issues and opportunities in the cooperatives and NPO sectors and equip members and other stakeholders to find a new niche for themselves as well as maintaining and developing the core competencies in the cooperatives and NPO sectors.
What has been your focus since you became the Chairman of the Committee?
We have designed six-day certificate courses for cooperatives and non-profit organisations separately and completed 14 certificate courses. These courses are enriching with knowledge of formation, management, accounting, taxation and audit aspects of cooperative societies and NPO sector. It also covers the duties and privileges of cooperative societies and NPOs, drafting, stamp duty and registration, etc. Webinar/ Webcast and hosting of seminars, workshops and publications aim to enhance members’ knowledge, expertise, skill sets and consequently assist in their career growth. e-newsletter, updating the website and forming taskforce for different types of societies and for different states, etc., and making representation to the Central and state governments to resolve the issues faced by the sector are the focus areas.
What all issues need immediate attention of the Government of Maharashtra to strengthen the cooperative movement in the State?
There has to be a transition into an online system of functioning of the department by adopting technology and incorporating the use of IT in the functioning of the Cooperative Department. There can be a proper and robust IT and communication network in place within the Department that can supplement even better functioning, i.e. website, officers’ login, officers’ email-IDs, etc. At the same time, filing of returns, forms and statements by cooperative societies can also be made online.
The current provisions (section 73CB) relating to the election tries to ensure autonomous and democratic functioning of the cooperatives, but at the same time, are impracticable and would cause hardship to the cooperative societies. The election officer shall step in only when there is a dispute or the conduct is not fair in respect of the elections process.
- A comprehensive manual should be published in a single book on the 1st of April of every year compiling all the pronouncements for easy reference of the cooperatives and others. ICAI would extend as a noble support the required assistance in compiling and bringing out this manual.
- In similarity with the corporate governance requirements for the corporate, principles of ’cooperative governance’ can be introduced to be applicable on the cooperative societies.
- One of the core principles of cooperation is the concern for community. While focusing on members’ needs, the cooperatives have to work for the sustainable development of communities through policies and programs accepted by the members.
- Considering the functioning of the Cooperative Courts and the Co-operative Appellate Court, it is necessary that they should be renamed as Cooperative Tribunals & Cooperative Appellate Tribunal to better describe these authorities, in line with the structure & functioning of these authorities. Chartered Accountants being knowledgeable with respect to the cooperative law and other laws can act as complete business advisors for cooperatives and also act as representatives in case of the disputes under this Act.
- With the increase in number of cooperative societies of various classes, there is also a simultaneous increase in the number of disputes. Arbitration, that serves as an alternative form of dispute resolution can facilitate faster resolution and settlement of disputes.
Arbitration mechanism can also be introduced under this Act for easier and faster dispute resolution and settlement.
We have designed six-day certificate courses for cooperatives and nonprofit organisations separately and completed 14 certificate courses
Steps on the similar lines are also taken in other states like the state of Kerala.
Audit of cooperative societies: Cooperative societies are required to arrange for getting their accounts audited under section 81 of the MCSA. The total number of Maharashtra cooperative societies is more than 2,18,000, while that of practising chartered accountants is around 30,000. Keeping in view the ratio of the number of cooperative societies to the number of chartered accountants practicing, there is a need to modify the provisions so as to enable all practicing members of the ICAI to be eligible for being appointed as the auditors for cooperative societies without requiring them to get themselves empanelled.
Exit Scheme for defunct co-operative societies: Out of the more than 2,25,000 co-operative societies, a few may not be operating and may have become defunct. Such cooperative societies can be given an opportunity to make an application to the Registrar and get their registration cancelled).