Legalising cannabis[QQ] I am surprised that the financial and business aspects of legalising cannabis are not mentioned more often.

There are a number of interesting ramifications that would follow if cannabis was legalised, as opposed to just not enforcing the law, as appears to be the case in The Netherlands.

Would it become a big industry? Would the tobacco giants move in and dominate it? Would existing criminals give up other drugs and register as legitimate businesses? Would the existing tobacco distribution channels put the small drug pushers out of business? Would the small drug pushers become pushers of more dangerous drugs, increasing the danger to young people? Would there still be an illegal market for cannabis, selling to children too young to buy over the counter, or selling goods without the VAT and excise duties? Would hybrid operators develop, selling legitimate fully taxed cannabis and illegal untaxed cannabis and even other illegal drugs?

Presumably the bulk of the revenue would come from excise duty and Customs & Excise would readily transfer their experience in relation to tobacco and spirits to the new products.

Mike Pendray

Via e-mail

End of district societies?

Tell it long enough and people will believe anything.

Contrary to the English ICA’s press release and subsequent statements, all 48 of the 22 district societies’ staff will be retired or made redundant (page 94 of the institute’s Getting Closer to Members document). Some will apply for the 36 new posts within the regions, most working from home. Few will be re-employed and some already have been told not to apply.

Inadequate time for full discussion and representations has been allowed.

District societies will find it impossible to continue to mount courses and social functions at competitive prices and will wither away destroying 120 years of development. All this was approved during a secret debate.

Most societies will be weakened and many will die.

Next the voting constituencies will be reduced from 22 societies to ten regions. With three council members per region, additional numbers for London and 10 co-options, council will comprise about 45 members – half the existing number. Membership from larger firms will be encouraged.

District societies are a pain for the institute in allowing members independently to get together and discuss institute policy and take concerted action when certain proposals are thought not in the best interests of the membership.

Starved of adequate finances, most have functioned at less than highest level of efficiency. Miraculously, funds have become available for the new regional structure.

Some form of regionalisation, if it were believed the institute’s best interests were served, would be supported, even if such should transpire to be a short-lived new wave fad. What is being done will not achieve the stated objective of Getting Closer to Members. The membership, who have not yet been told, are being hoodwinked. The path outlined will distance members, add costs where few or none previously existed and make the local structure ineffective.

All should give deep thought and support any action that might be taken to have council’s unpublished decision revoked. In a letter such as this it is possible to touch on only some of the worrying aspects of what is taking place.

No, I am not a nutter! I have been active in institute affairs since 1965 and have served on nearly all its committees and on council. Graham Ward, the institute’s president, recently praised me by referring to me as a troublemaker, like himself.

DE Heady


The damn cheek of it

I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with an institute representative recently about the institute’s plans for Getting Closer to Members.

This gave me the opportunity to point out how cheeky (and I can think of no other word!) I feel it is to expect members, who already volunteer their time at various committees, updates and careers presentations, to also be expected to volunteer their own offices for meetings.

There comes with this, the presumption that members will also be able to provide storage for literature and exhibition stands etc. The only alternative to this being that they travel to the proposed regional office to pick up such things (which is clearly not practical in many instances).

I am sorry to say that at no time during our conversation, was I convinced how anything proposed in the aforementioned paper would get more members involved with the district, region or institute.

I can see nothing in the plans to improve communication and raise the profile of the institute, that would either be of additional benefit to the member or make the member feel they were getting any value (other than the use of the letters ACA) from their annual subscription.

We have seen a number of appointments at the institute recently, of people specialists in the areas of communication, press office and government liaison.

What this group now needs to do is demonstrate the ability to relate their expertise and ability to what the members (who are in fact paying their salaries) want and need.

I am most concerned to ensure that in the ever more competitive financial services market, the status of the chartered accountant is maintained.

To do this the institute needs to ensure it plays a dual role; both to promote chartered accountants as a body, and in supporting its members to ensure they are best placed to be the ‘adviser of choice’ in the world economy.

Leigh Petrie ACA

FCE Bank

Simplify PEPs

Is there not a crying need to simplify the tortuous legislation on single company PEPs, which defeats much of the object of these investments?

For example, rights issues often cannot be taken up, poor performance leaves too small a holding to sell and re-invest and super performance gives a holding possibly out of proportion for a sensibly balanced portfolio.

Dividends received and tax credits are often too small, even after several years, to justify making further purchases of shares.

Would institutes currently preparing submissions to the chancellor care to include this as a suggested reform?

John Donovan


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