Millennium Post

PM hopes parliament will pass companies bill shortly

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has expressed the hope that parliament will 'shortly' pass a pending legislation that, among other things, suggests that large companies keep aside two per cent of their three-year average profit for works related to corporate social responsibilities.

'The Companies Bill, presently under consideration of our parliament, seeks to provide a further fillip to the cause of corporate social responsibility, corporate governance and investor protection. I expect the bill to be passed shortly,' Manmohan Singh said on Friday.

The proposed legislation to replace the half-a-century old company law is being examined by a parliamentary panel.

The new bill was listed for passage in the winter session but could not be taken in the wake of severe opposition from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the ruling ally Trinamool Congress.

The prime minister, who was addressing the inauguration ceremony of Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs campus in Manesar in Haryana, said his government was committed to providing an environment conducive to enterprise and growth of entrepreneurship.

'We are committed to having a regulatory and policy environment, which will unleash the creative energies of our people and will fulfill the expectations of our founding fathers of our republic.'

He said the institute has been conceived as a think-tank and research institute in the area of corporate law and will also provide training for officers of the Indian Company Law Service.

The prime minister lauded the institute for helping in the formulation of the 'National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business'.

'These guidelines,' he said, 'Are not prescriptive but voluntary in nature as they shall be.'

'They urge businesses to embrace an approach whereby their financial performance can be harmonised with the expectations of society at large.'

Manmohan Singh noted that India's corporate sector has expanded rapidly in size, commensurate with the growth of the economy.

'I am told that in the year 1956, the year in which the Companies Act came into force, we had about 30 thousand registered companies. Today, the ministry of corporate affairs has about nine lakh companies on its rolls.'
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