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Thursday, Feb 13, 2003

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E-balance sheets on cards?

Richa Mishra

NEW DELHI, Feb. 12

INVESTORS may soon have access to a company's information at the click of a mouse. The Department of Company Affairs (DCA) plans to direct all companies to make their financial statements available on the Internet to enable investors to access relevant data.

"The Department is working on a proposal to make it possible for the companies to file their annual returns online. We are working on few options before we take a final view," a DCA official told Business Line. This move is in keeping with the Department's intention of lessening the burden on its Registrar of Companies (RoCs) and become more investor friendly, sources said.

Besides, DCA is also looking at entering into a tie-up with banks such as ICICI and HDFC for filing of documents online by paying fee through these banks. "This will change the entire filing culture," sources said.

Further, this will be requiring usage of digital signature. To use digital signature the companies will have to go through a lot of scrutiny and certification. Only those companies that meet the requirements will be granted permission, thereby cutting down on excessive paper work and regular scrutiny from the Government agencies.

DCA has been working on how best the existing working of the Companies Act, including various rules and regulations framed there under, could be moulded in tune with the requirements of the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 for better electronic corporate governance.

The IT Act, 2000, provides for legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, which involves the use of alternative to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information and to facilitate electronic filing of documents with the Government agencies.

Meanwhile, pursuing its endeavour to promote dissemination of corporate information available with the offices of the RoC, DCA jointly with National Informatics Centre (NIC), has developed search facility for its Web site. The search facility includes filing status of balance sheets and annual returns.

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