Leading Chartered Accountant, Sandip Bhandare takes over the reins of Goa’s biggest and oldest trade and business organisation, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Read about his plans as the head of the 110-year-old institution
Hard work and determination are two aspects that every individual is asked to inherit for a future that would bring fortune. While many just nod their heads to these words, there are the ones who prove that these are not mere words but, stepping stones to a better tomorrow. Sandip Bhandare, the recently elected GCCI President is undoubtedly one of them.
As a child, Bhandare never fantasized of being a Chartered Accountant. In fact, he hadn’t noticed his keen eye for numbers until he had completed his high school. “I joined SS Dempo College of Commerce and Economics and it was here that I realized that Chartered Accountancy (CA) was a natural progression for a student interested in accountancy. I got acquainted with a group of hopefuls and we decided to pursue a full-fledged CA course together,” he says.
Though he had taken up Chartered Accountancy, there was no one present to guide him with his uncertainties. However the small accountants’ group that they had formed amongst themselves, made each one strong-willed. Bhandare had immense belief in the capability of the group and knew that they would help each other get through tough situations. Today, Sandip Bhandare is one of the top-notch names in the accounting sector of the State and, he owes his success to several others who he believes to have played an important role in his life. He says, “My experience in college was nothing short of enjoyable. We had a very good professor of accountancy – Shashikant Thali. It was he who persuaded us to seriously consider embracing CA as a profession.” He further adds, “We were also privileged to come in contact with four or five chartered accountants like V B Prabhu Verlekar, N. N. Naik Gaunekar and Vishnu Naik, who were associated with the college in various (teaching) capacities. Following in their footsteps and sharing their experiences truly made me believe that I could succeed.”
As GCCI President, Sandip Bhandare hopes to put Henry Ford’s mantra into action: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success
Bhandare considers that their group of five to six people were the key in helping each other succeed. “We had been together since grade 11, even answering most of our exams around the same time. Few, like Santosh Kenkre and Lalit Shah, are now accomplished chartered accountants. We remain close even after 35 years and I feel that sharing our professional experiences as a group actually helped us grow as individuals too,” says Bhandare.
According to Bhandare, his professors were indisputably the pioneers of chartered accountancy in Goa along with some other people of that generation.
Bhandare considers his tenure as Chairman of the ICAI (Goa Branch) as his greatest achievement. “It’s something that you aspire to achieve from when you are a student. To become the head of a chartered accountant’s association, although in a small region like Goa, but it is something that I am extremely proud of.”
Over the years, Bhandare has found a relatable connection between his personal and professional life. Accounting is a profession that demands for unbiased and fair opinions; Bhandare has found this concept relevant in his personal life as well. “I find that being true to myself the way as I do my accounts, has led people to respect my character and value me as a person. In this job, there is a lot of stress with strict deadlines that have to be met. I have realised that being open and genuine, simplifies everything and makes it easier to bear the heavy workload. With these qualities, comes a great sense of satisfaction, both in financial sense as well as in giving you a feeling of pride and respectability,” he says.
Bhandare states that within professional circles, Chartered Accountancy is commonly referred to as a back-end job, simply because the work is performed behind the scenes. “I feel this is due to a combination of our current mentality, combined with a slightly primitive education system. Language and conversational skills are not considered necessary for the job; but the attitude towards the same is gradually changing. Many chartered accountants working in the industry head their organizations, bringing about a positive change. Youngsters shouldn’t be content hiding behind the desks, but strive towards earning a position that makes them interact and network with people,” he opines.
Joining Goa Chamber: Sandip Bhandare was inducted into the Managing Committee of GCCI in 2002, under the presidency of Nitin Kunkolienkar. “When I look at the past and particularly the journey from 2002 in which year I first joined the managing committee of Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry, I am reminded of our past president Nitin who co-opted me on the Chamber’s Mananging Commitee, on the suggestion of Manguirish Pai Raiker. I am grateful to both of them for my entry in the Chamber and the subsequent handholding that they did during this period. Both these past presidents are dynamic, very hard working and possess huge energy levels. Both of them are action oriented and have increased the mass appeal of GCCI and still continue to be the beacons of assistance to everyone. They have made GCCI a household name,” comments Bhandare about the Chamber’s leadership.
He further adds, “Besides these two presidents, I have been privileged to be associated with another two business leaders – Cesar Menezes and the immediate past president Nanabab Bandekar. Cesarbab brought a lot of statesmanship and maturity to the Chamber. Nanabab with his legendary generosity, methodical planning and an ability to stay unruffled under any circumstances, during the last four years of his presidency, he has involved me considerably in decision making and planning GCCI’s activities. I remain grateful to all four past presidents and hope that their time and advice will be available to me. Working together with them and my committee colleagues right from 2002 onwards has been a very rich experience and reminds me of the American entrepreneur Henry Ford’s saying – Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success”
“We have to attract new industries and investment for Goa”
The President of any institution has to basically perform two roles: one is the legacy role which is dictated by the mandate given to that institution by its constitution; and the second role is one which the President marks as a special role to be performed during his tenure.
The legacy roles of the GCCI are to act as a spokesman for the business and professional community, translating the group thinking of its members into action, to further the interest of its members and lastly to educate its members of latest developments.
The special roles that I have marked for myself is firstly, to collaborate with the Government and other industry associations to attract new investment and industries in Goa and secondly, to assist the industry and professionals in Goa to have a competitive edge over the other states in the new GST regime.
The GST is a revolutionary game changer, and Goan businesses will have to now assess the impact of GST on not only their tax structure but every business decision such as procurement, costing, sales, logistics and warehousing.
The Chamber is a multi-sectoral organisation. What value additions have you planned for the various sub committees?
No President can single-handedly do substantial work in GCCI without the support of its Sectoral Committees. The Chamber has Committees for all major sectors. I believe that during the term of 2 years, each of these sub committees led by the respective chairman should conduct at least one major program. I would like the committees to be very proactive and take up the issues that are affecting their sectors. The ultimate aim of these programs would be to attract new, environment-friendly industries to Goa and to create more job opportunities for Goans by providing skill based and quality education.
Tell us how have you planned to distribute responsibilities among your Managing Committee members during your tenure?
Apart from the President, there are 14 elected members and 5 co-opted members at GCCI. Most of the Managing Committee members are either heading the sectoral sub committees or are acting as coordinators between the managing committee and the sectoral sub committees. I have urged the members to take interest in the sub committees and take up the issues of the sector. Additionally, I would like the two vice presidents of the Chamber to act as friends, philosophers and guides to these committees.
What is your take on the business friendliness of the state?
Goa being a small state, there is an instant access both to the bureaucracy and the political class. Therefore the importance of laying down hard formal structures may not be as relevant to Goa as it could be to other large states where access to both bureaucracy and political class is difficult. It is true that in the last survey of ease of doing business, Goa has not performed as well as some of the other States. The primary reason in most of the cases has been the non-availability of land. In most of those States that have performed well, there are huge parcels of land which are available and which can be given to the potential investors instantly. Goa however, has a land scarcity, and substantial land has also been locked on account of SEZ litigation. Leaving this issue aside, the Government, I am told, has been doing quite a lot of work to improve business friendliness and ease of doing business. On the part of GCCI, we appointed Goa Institute of Management to conduct a comprehensive analysis on Goa’s Ease of Doing Business. Based upon this analysis, GIM has prepared for GCCI, a report for improving the ease of doing business and particularly the low hanging fruits where even marginal improvement can lead to substantial increase in the ranking of the State. We have already submitted the report to the Chief Minister. The Government, I believe, is also studying the new Business Retention and Expansion Program (BREP) for the year and to ensure that Goa’s ranking goes up in the 2017 survey. I therefore believe that while Goa is very friendly to business, its formal ranking in 2017 should also reflect the actual reality.
How would you rate the performance of the Government on the economic front?
I believe that the Government has performed well on the economic front but needs to do much more if Goa has to emerge as the best state in terms of investment. We have a good infrastructure in terms of road, rail and airport. We have seen the huge number of infrastructure projects coming up in the next few years. The airport at Mopa and the construction of the new Zuari and Mandovi bridges will ensure smooth traffic of passenger and cargo. We need to now concentrate on attracting more industries to Goa and creating better job opportunities for Goans.
Goa ranks high in most of the economic parameters such as per capita domestic product, number of vehicles, mobile and internet connectivity etc. We also rank high in terms of support infrastructure such as education, low mortality rate and a better quality of life which in turn are the pillars for economic development. I hope that we can do much better on this front in the coming years.
What new industries is the Chamber supporting?
The GCCI has always believed that considering Goa’s ecological structure, we need to have industries which do not cause much pollution and damage the environment. There has always been a debate between preservation of nature and development. One has to find a balance between preserving environment for the future generations while also sustaining the present generation by providing adequate job opportunities. Over the last few years, there has been a substantial migration of the cream of Goan talent. There are no sufficient and high paying job opportunities for the professionals who graduate from Goa, which results in them migrating to neighbouring cities like Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore or out of India. At the same time, jobs where hard manual labour is required are not very suitable for Goans. The forte usually associated with Goan youth is their intelligence, creativity, fluency in English, honesty and their hospitality. We must therefore have industries which match these attributes and at the same time are clean and environment friendly. I believe that IT and ITES industries, education, pharma industry, R&D, creative arts, hotels and hospitality are some of the industry that suit Goa, out of which the IT and Education industry require more impetus. The Government has already identified Tuem Industrial Estate and Chimbel Industrial Estate for the Electronic & IT sector. We need to move ahead strongly to ensure investment in these sectors.
In your opinion, will the liquor outlet ban in the highways have lasting effects on tourism and the overall Goan economy?
I feel that the liquor outlet ban, if implemented rigidly, will have lasting effects on the tourism and the overall Goan economy. While there is no doubt that we must take enough and adequate steps to ensure that road accidents and the consequent injuries and loss of lives are avoided at all costs, it is not entirely correct to say that all the accidents are caused on account of highway bars and liquor outlets. Sudden closure of bars and liquor outlets will have a negative impact on the economy. The Hon. Supreme Court has realized that the order in its present form is a very generalized order and does not take into account the specific circumstances of each of the states and specific areas affected by it. The Hon. Supreme Court has already stated that its purpose was not to close down all the outlets where such highways formed part of the city. In respect of the ban itself, I feel that a time period should have been provided within which such a transition could have taken place. Substantial amount of money has been invested by the hotel and tourism industry, and a sudden closure of these units will threaten this investment. Further, a lot of jobs are at stake. With respect to Goa particularly, we should recognize the fact that the economy of the state is highly dependent upon tourism. Under such circumstances, implementation of the ban order in its present form will have a long term impact. I believe that the Government must take up this issue before the Supreme Court and ensure that relaxation is given firstly in terms of liquor outlets in all the cities, and secondly by minimizing the distance for the highways, beyond which the liquor outlets can operate.
We are trying to ensure that the local trade and industry is educated about the intricacies and compliances of GST; and to provide a hand holding service for small entrepreneurs and businesses to a smooth transition to GST – Sandip Bhandare President, GCCI
Where does GCCI stand on the issue of river nationalisation?
The Chamber has always taken a stand that there should be nationalization of the rivers along with an appropriate Memorandum of Understanding between the Centre and the State to guard the core interest of Goans. Goa is blessed with adequate inland waterways and rivers; but somehow there has not been enough attention paid to these areas. This has resulted in burdening of the roads by both, passenger as well as goods traffic. The development of inland waterways and rivers require huge investment. Considering the current financial position, it will be better that this responsibility is taken up by the Centre. I therefore believe that we should first assess our core interests and accordingly have an understanding with the Central Government for protecting this interest.
As President of GCCI, are you planning for any ways to educate people on GST?
For the last year or so, GCCI has been conducting various programs and workshops relating to GST. The aim of the programs has been to firstly ensure that the local trade and industry is educated about the intricacies and compliances of GST; and to provide a hand holding service for small entrepreneurs and businesses to a smooth transition to GST.
With the businesses looking upon professionals to navigate them through the fine print, the second aim of the GCCI is to develop talent among local Chartered Accountants and other professionals so that the revenue from consultancy and impact analysis is earned by the local persons rather than by persons outside Goa.
Under my Presidency, GCCI conducted a two-day intensive program in July 2017 on the nuances of GST wherein we had a panel of experts and learned speakers from all over India who dealt with practical issues impacting the business. Moving forward, we are planning more programs for specific sectors such as the hotels and allied industries and the real estate industry.
As the GST Law settles in, the broader aim would be to change the contour of the programs to the relevant topics prevailing at the time. At the moment, with businesses still pulling their socks up, to comply with GST, we are planning more seminars at various places in Goa on practical topics of registration, return filing etc.
Goans love soccer. We have seen how good players score a goal. They do not wait for the ball to come to them and start running thereafter. They start running much before in anticipation that their team mate will make the ball available to them just at the right time. We have to develop the same ability in implementing GST to have a competitive edge over other states