Opinion

Below the line

| Updated on June 20, 2021

‘Please be boring’

RBI officials, including Deputy Governor Michael D Patra, concluded their article on the “State of the Economy” in the monthly bulletin by emphasising that it continues to evoke diverse views. They noted: “Some have said that it has made the Bulletin readable, that it is a statement of hope, and we thank them. Others have been less kind, but they have tended to lean towards issues of form than of substance. They have pleaded with us to ‘please be boring’. They see us as going over the top in offering bromides and indulging in quote fests by enlisting luminaries and borrowed philosophy. Yes, we rely on the wisdom of our forebears and our contemporaries whose words shine, like light that cannot be hid.” So, the officials said they can do no better than remember the words of Sir Isaac Newton in 1675: “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulder of Giants.”

Beating around the bush

Indian corporates are coy about sharing information, especially if they under the media glare. One such instance came to the fore in the recent controversy around PNB Housing and Carlyle Group preferential issue transaction, which is proposed to be consummated at a price much lower than book value. So when a curious hack asked the top brass of PNB Housing on who the legal/transaction advisor for the controversial deal was, pat came the reply: “It was one of the top law firms of the country”! This cheeky reply foxed the hack. Well played PNB Housing.

Getting it right

The Textile Ministry is taking its time to finalise the contours of the Production Linked Incentive (PLI) scheme for man made fibre items and technical textile products.

The Ministry is reportedly reconsidering its earlier list of 50 items, to include inputs such as filaments and yarn to encourage value addition. The logic is that if the eligible items are only end products it would encourage the industry to import inputs and assemble the final item. However, now that the list has been re-opened there are numerous new requests to be examined which is delaying finalisation of the scheme, industry sources say. The Textile Ministry apparently wants to weigh all options carefully this time round as it is better to be safe than sorry!

ICAI’s somersault

Last week, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) sent a missive to those who had responded to a survey by the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) of the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA).

The TAC had put out a report earlier this month on “Enhancing stakeholder engagement” as part of which it had engaged with a bunch of senior chartered accountants in industry, practice and others such as analysts and editors. The report was scathing in its assessment of the audit profession and of auditors. Stung by this, the ICAI formed a group whose convenor sent out the missive asking those who responded to the TAC questionnaire to attend a meeting at 4 p.m. on Sunday, to “discuss with you about your responses/ feedback given to NFRA/ TAC and also what exactly has been discussed with you.”

The email further said: “Institute is concerned about several remarks in the Report of TAC against the profession… We find that questions sent to you were different and whole paper is in a different tone. Answers to those questions do not seem to be related to the conclusions drawn by the TAC and it has been stated that TAC has discussed with the Stakeholders”.

How does the ICAI know what the answers were? Does it really expect the respondents to reveal their discussions with the TAC? And shouldn’t the ICAI be trying to address the issues raised in the TAC report rather than digging around for information? Even as the respondents were readying for a lively session with the ICAI came the email on Sunday afternoon tersely informing that the meeting has been postponed due to “unavoidable circumstances”. What’s behind ICAI’s rethink? Has saner counsel prevailed or is it politics within that is at play?

Interestingly, the author of the TAC report, a senior chartered accountant and professor at a well-known management institute, was not invited to the “discussions”. Does that say something?

Our Bureaus

Published on June 20, 2021

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