The Abu Dhabi Chapter of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) brought together a number of local, regional and international experts to discuss vital issues affecting the world at the 26th Annual International Seminar on November 13 and 14 at the Armed Forces Officers Club in Abu Dhabi under the theme ‘Shifting Gears: Ready for Take-off’.
The event was inaugurated by Mr. Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh, Undersecretary of Foreign Trade and Industry of the UAE Ministry of Economy and Mr. T. P. Seetharam, Ambassador of India to the UAE, along with well-known with the prominent speakers and businessmen.
CA Rajiv Shah, Vice Chairman of the Chapter formally opened the Conference and welcomed all attendees.
CA Padmanabha Acharya, Chairman of the chapter, in his welcome address said the MENA region is expected to grow at 4.5 per cent per annum.
Public sector spending is expected to continue to rise. CA Acharya said that the Chapter is proud of its 26 years of history of organising the annual International Seminar and three decades of existence.
He also commended the contribution of the Chapter to the UAE and its role in enhancing the ties between India and UAE.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Abdullah Ahmed Al Saleh hailed the contribution of ICAI in grooming accounting professionals that have contributed immensely to the growth of the local workforce and the nation. He congratulated the ICAI on its many achievements and expressed his gratitude over organising such an event in Abu Dhabi.
Indian Ambassador T. P. Seetharam referred to the ambitious agenda set by India following the massive mandate given to the government in last elections, but cautioned that there were challenges along the way. Expanding on the theme of the 26th seminar, he said while thinking of ways to take off, it is important to keep in mind how to land. It is vital for all sides to work hard to help achieve the high expectations.
The Ambassador urged investors from the UAE and GCC to invest more in India and be partners in the ambitious growth agenda set by the new Prime Minister of India.
Delivering a keynote address, CA Sanjay Manchanda, CEO, Nakheel, on “UAE Real Estate Shifting Gear: Nakheel Ready for Take-off” recounted the Nakheel story and touched on the real estate scenario in Dubai leading up to Expo 2020.
Mr. Manchanda said the most significant milestone in the corporate history of Nakheel was achieved in August 2014 when Nakheel prepaid its entire bank debt of Dhs7.9bn, almost four years ahead of scheduled last payment. Nakheel has undergone a transformation since March 2010, with improved collections, and improved profits, he added.
Nakheel remains an integral part of the Dubai Vision, he said. Robust performance has laid the foundation for building a long term sustainable business. In addition to strong developments in the pipeline, Dhs21bn of Nakheel owned retail and leasing projects are on the anvil, and Nakheel’s projected investments in the hospitality sector are in the region of Dhs3bn.
In another keynote address CA R. Seetharaman, CEO of Doha Bank, was critical of certain market practices in developed countries, which impacted the markets (financial securities, stocks, housing and commodities).
He said after the global financial crisis, the banking sector had changed for the better, and banks are not likely to repeat the mistakes of the past. He predicted that emerging economies are set to coming into their own and enjoy more clout in the global context. The human capital is in emerging countries, including the GCC, and said it was high time the world took this region seriously.
Mr. Seetharaman further said that this century belongs to India, and recalled how the financial crisis failed to make any big impact on India. The new Indian government has the opportunity to make this come true and the whole world is looking at India with great interest.
Noted social activist, reformer and politician, Medha Patkar, spoke on “India Take-off: Social and Environmental Issues” and made a strong plea for ‘development with a humane and ecological face.’ A founder member of Narmada Bachao Andolan known for her fierce opposition to the Narmada dam in Gujarat, Medha said every nation must account for environmental degradation and ensure justice to families and communities affected by development.
She said it is imperative to have a dialogue with affected before implementing major developmental projects; or else, development would have a negative impact on society and environment. She called for an end to ‘forced acquisition of property’, special in villages where indigenous communities live in harmony with nature and with self-reliance and their livelihood could be affected by certain types of developmental projects.
Young innovator and entrepreneur Sushant Pattnaik, who has invented over a dozen devices based on technology, spoke on ‘Extraordinary Innovation: Inspirational Innovator’ and presented some of his inventions, including a device that can fend off would-be rapists, a system for converting ordinary cars into driverless vehicles, a system that operates devices through breath-control and a low-cost electricity system that has been supported by Reliance Foundation, among others.
Addressing a rapt audience, Sushant said his journey into inventing began when he saw people facing problems in real life, especially those with special needs and the elderly. Many of Sushant’s inventions are in pilot testing stage, and he said he was confident the devices would enter the market soon.
A Panel Discussion on “Expo 2020 – Economic Impact Pre and Post 2020″ was held, featuring Mr. Alain Renaud, GM Corporate, Commercial and Investment Banking Group, CBD, Ms. Monica Malika, Chief Economist, ADCB, Dr. Ashraf Ali Mahate, Head of Export Market Intelligence, Dubai Exports. It was moderated by CA Nilesh Ambikar, Treasurer, Abu Dhabi Chapter of ICAI.
The panellists agreed that Dubai Expo 2020 would yield long-term benefits not only for the UAE but for the entire MENAFA, and was the right fit for UAE’s ambitious plans that embrace growth in trade, tourism and real estate. They concurred that the spate of announcements of theme parks, hospitality projects and infrastructure upgrade were indicative of a planned approach by the authorities, the benefits would accrue long after the Expo 2020 has ended.
CA P R Ramesh, Chairman, Deloitte India, speaking on “Changing Landscape of Indian Corporate Laws: Take-off or Disruption”, touched on India’s poor ranking of 142 in the global Ease of Doing Business Index and hoped that the new Corporate Law would help boost the ranking.
He explained the new Corporate Law had several positives, including more stringent enforcement of law, better investor protection, self-regulation, e-governance, CSR, emphasis on corporate governance and corporate democracy However, he added it has some elements that could hamper corporate growth in India.
P.R. Ramesh said that the arrival of the Narendra Modi government on the scene had given new signs of optimism, including increased emphasis on governance and speedy procedures.
CA Suresh Senapaty, Executive Director and CFO, WIPRO, who addressed the audience on ‘Digital India: Global Impact’ presented glimpses into the future world of technology, and highlighted the following new trends – DNA computing (using DNA logic gates); Artificial Intelligence; the Internet of Things, 3D Manufacturing and Hydraulic Fracturing.
He explained that these trends would lead to a surge in innovation (discovering needs rather than merely meeting needs); a truly networked world (increased consumer reach) and staying relevant (businesses adopting technology to gain competitive edge).
The two-day event ended with a gala dinner on Friday, and was followed by a live concert by famous Indian performer KK, which was attended by over 3000 people.
CA Suresh Panwar, Vice Chairman of the Chapter, concluded the two day seminar and summarized the proceedings in his valedictory address.
The Chapter has been organizing these seminars for past 25 years for their members working in UAE. Over the years, the Chartered Accountants from India have made significant contributions in the field of finance, accounts and audit in the country and have been recognized as highly competent and conceptually strong professionals evolving appropriate strategies to ensure entities employing them are appropriately placed to tide over challenging economic conditions.