THE LOK Sabha on Thursday passed legislation aimed at strengthening corporate governance standards, allowing for strict action against defaulting companies and improving the ease of doing business in the country.
The Companies (Amendment) Bill, 2016, was passed by a voice vote. The new legislation provides for over 40 amendments to the existing Companies Act, 2013, which was passed during the UPA regime. “The passage of this Bill will help increase the size of the country’s economy,” said Minister of State for Corporate Affairs Arjun Ram Meghwal, who piloted the legislation.
Investor protection and corporate governance were the two main objectives of the legislation, he said, adding that it would facilitate simplification of procedures, make compliance easy and provide for stringent action against defaulting companies. The minister said the present government was trying to address the scams which took place during the UPA-rule.
Speaking during the discussion on the Bill, Meghwal rejected the contention of some Opposition members, that the fresh amendments would dilute the objectives of the Companies Act, 2013. “We have not done that,” Meghwal said. On the other hand, he maintained, the Bill would provide relief to small investors.
Meghwal claimed that the government had saved Rs 57,000 crore by weeding out corruption from various schemes through the use of technology. “This is the first government which has been able to check corruption and plug leakage through the use of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT),” he said. The minister added that the government, through successful use of technology, had made Chandigarh a kerosene-free city.
During the discussion, Congress and Trinamool Congress members took on the government over demonetisation and sought to know why it was “hiding” the number of old 500 and 1000 rupee notes that had been deposited in banks post the radical step.
K V Thomas of the Congress pointed out that it had been eight months since demonetisation, but the Reserve Bank has been maintaining that it was still counting the number of notes which had been deposited between November 10 and December 30 last year.
Thomas said the government, while making the announcement of demonetisation, had said that it will help in tackling black money, terrorism and fake currency. “Eight months have passed… How much money has come back? Why is the government hiding it? The Parliamentary Committee has called the RBI Governor many times and he says ‘we are still counting’..,” he added.
Trinamool Congress member Sougata Ray said, “We have been wanting to find out… Till today, the RBI Governor has not been able to say how much money was deposited post-demonetisation”.