Government to introduce new Companies Bill in Parliament soon

‘Prime Minister, go back. Roll back diesel price’ is definitely not what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh might have expected to hear as he stood up to deliver his address at the ‘Conference on Economic Growth in Asia and Changes of Corporate Environment’ here on Saturday.

The protest took everyone by surprise, as the event was being held in a high-security area, Vigyan Bhavan. The reason for the disruption was the not-so-popular decisions taken by the Government recently. According to reports, the protestor was a lawyer, Santosh Kumar Suman, a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association, and had a valid invitation to enter the venue.

Corporate governance

However, the Prime Minister maintained his calm, waiting for a while before carrying on with his address. “There is a need is to build a climate that attracts investment and encourages and rewards innovation, and to establish fair and effective regulatory institutions as well as legal processes”, he said. “Above all, we have the responsibility to ensure probity, transparency and accountability in the processes of governance,” he added.

Singh stressed that there was a need for modern, efficient and innovative companies, capable of competing with the best in the world and living up to the highest standards of corporate governance.

Increasing use of the word ‘inclusive’ was an indication of the new emphasis on equity in economic and social processes, the Prime Minister said.

“New laws in areas such as regulation of the securities market, competition and limited liability partnerships have been put in place. We will soon bring before Parliament the new Companies Bill that has been in the making for quite some time now,” he added.

On the importance of good corporate governance, including responsible conduct towards all the stakeholders, within a corporation as well as outside, he said this was seen as good economics besides desired moral behaviour.

“Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is, therefore, increasingly being seen as a fundamental dimension of the social contract between human beings and, therefore, sought to be subject to public disclosure and scrutiny,” the Prime Minister said.

Social responsibility

He said the evolving economic space had to be addressed by all organs of Government: the executive, legislature and the judiciary.

“The balance between the three organs may appear to get unsettled at times, but ultimately it has stood the test of time,” he added. On judicial decisions, Singh said that many a time these have a transnational impact, as global financial and trade systems get more closely integrated.

The conference was organised by the Indian Law Institute and attended by legal experts from across Asia, besides the Chief Justice of India, S.H. Kapadia, and Law Minister Salman Khurshid.

(This article was published on September 22, 2012)
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