Our Bureau

Chennai, Oct. 20

INDIAN professionals should not be averse to meeting challenges arising from external competition, Ms Komal Anand, Secretary, Ministry of Company Affairs (MCA), has said.

Delivering the inaugural speech at the 33rd Convention of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), Ms Anand said Indian professionals must organise themselves as large entities and develop capacity to compete with international firms.

Pointing out that the Indian Government was working with the authorities of other countries for recognition of Indian qualifications "within a reasonable timeframe", Ms Anand said, "Other countries are also eyeing the vast Indian market and Indian professionals "should not be averse" to the challenge.''

On its part, the Government is "taking steps towards amending relevant statutes so that the legal restraints on the growth of Indian professional firms can be removed," she said.

Earlier, in his address, Mr R. Ravi, President, ICSI, said the institute is "developing country-specific knowledge and skill base among the members to enable them to go global."

He said it has approached many governments "to agitate at the WTO for the inclusion of a new Head for Corporate Governance and Company Secretarial Services" in the list of services.

Ms Anand said the MCA is working towards an e-governance project, which is likely to go live from April 2006. The project would enable companies to preserve documents such as Memorandum and Articles of Association in digital form and file reports electronically. The Ministry expects that initially about six-crore pages of documents would be digitised and stored in the computer system.

Tata Consultancy Services is developing the software for this project covering both filing of forms as well as establishment functions. It will enable online filing of documents by companies and automate the work of MCA.

Ms Anand said the Ministry is in the process of making comprehensive amendments to the Companies Act, based on the report of the Expert Committee on Company Law, headed by Dr J.J. Irani.

"The preparation of the new draft Company Law is at the final stage now. The proposed law would enable the corporate sector to be more competitive and keep pace with the economic changes taking place," she said.

Delivering the keynote address at the Convention, Mr A.C. Muthiah, former President of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Chairman, SPIC group of companies, stressed that "regulatory authorities must remain in the realm of regulation and should not impinge on the operative autonomy of business organisations."

Companies, he said, should be allowed to run as per the substantive law and "a company's operations and destiny should be determined only by its owners, namely, the shareholders."

Mr Muthiah said many countries were choosing low corporate income-tax rates to foster investment, preferring it to the traditional tax-holiday incentives of the past. He wanted the Convention to analyse the issue.

He also said reforms were not happening at the State level. "Regulatory and procedural reforms in the States are overdue this should be on the top of the agenda of the state governments," he said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated October 21, 2005)
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