'New Companies Bill to guard against second Satyam episode'

Kolkata:  The new Companies Bill, which is likely to be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament, will contain provisions to guard against a recurrence of the Satyam episode which shattered the confidence of India Inc, reports PTI quoting minister of state for corporate affairs Salman Khurshid.

"Handling of the Satyam case has given India a higher standing in the world. Learning from Satyam will be reflected in the Bill," Mr Khurshid said at the National Convention of Company Secretaries here today.

Asked later what provisions the Bill would include, he said there would be greater accountability at different levels, strengthening of the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) and investigating procedures and putting in place an early warning system.

Mr Khurshid also said the new Bill will contain measures to fix responsibilities in case of criminal acts like the Bhopal gas tragedy.

Mr Khurshid said that even after 26 years, the Bhopal dispute remained unresolved.

He said the ministry was concerned about the role of promoter directors, CEOs and independent directors in case of criminal acts.

The ministry has got good guidance from the Standing Committee of Parliament, which will be incorporated in the final draft of the Bill, he said.

"We are also waiting for the Supreme Court's view on liability for criminal acts," he said.

Mr Khurshid said the government would see that regulations were in place to bring about transparency in the running of corporate houses.

"We do not want to enter the boardroom of corporates. But they also should be mindful of their responsibilities. We will be happy with little control," Mr Khurshid said.

He said the Companies Bill has been in the pipeline for the last seven or eight years.

The Bill is likely to be tabled in the Winter Session of Parliament and positively by the end of the fiscal.

The final draft was getting prepared, he said.

About the voluntary guidelines which were issued by the ministry, Mr Khurshid said, "The government is toying with the idea of what needs to be shifted to make it mandatory and what to keep voluntary."

Ministry of corporate affairs secretary R Banerjee said that as professionals, company secretaries should keep a watchful eye to ensure compliance with regulations.

"Complaints come to us that company secretaries, instead of guiding corporates the right way, are advising them how to bypass the legislations," he regretted.


Govt starts anti-dumping probe into soda ash imports

New Delhi: India has initiated a probe into alleged dumping of soda ash by countries like China, Iran and Pakistan to protect domestic players, reports PTI.

The commerce ministry's designated authority, the Directorate General of Anti-Dumping and Allied Duties (DGAD), has started an investigation into alleged dumping of the chemical, used in detergent and soap making, on the basis of an application filed by the Alkali Manufacturers' Association of India.

"... The authority (DGAD) hereby initiates an investigation into the alleged dumping and consequential injury to the domestic industry... To determine the effect of dumping and to recommend the amount of anti-dumping duty... To remove the injury," the commerce ministry said in a notification.

The period of investigation for the purpose is from April, 2009, to March, 2010.

It said that the DGAD has sufficient prima facie evidence of dumping of soda ash by China, the EU, Kenya, Pakistan, Iran, the US and Ukraine to initiate the probe.

As many as 15 anti-dumping duties have been imposed in the first 11 months of the current fiscal, with the maximum on Chinese goods. India has slapped the restrictive duty on several items such as yarn, fabrics, certain stainless steel products, auto parts and chemicals.

Countries initiate an anti-dumping probe to see whether their domestic industries have been hurt because of a surge in cheap imports. As a counter-measure, they impose duties under the multilateral regime of the WTO.

The duty also ensures fair trading practices and creates a level-playing field for domestic producers vis-à-vis foreign producers and exporters resorting to dumping.


Pawar apprises PM of sugar decontrol plan

New Delhi: Making a case for freeing the sugar sector from government controls, food and agriculture minister Sharad Pawar today met the prime minister to apprise him about the proposed move to give freedom to mills for sale of the sweetener, reports PTI.

At present, the government controls the sugar industry by fixing the quantity of the sweetener that mills would sell in the open market as well as through ration shops each month.

With expectations of bumper production from the next season starting October, the ministry is planning to decontrol the sector.

According to sources, Mr Pawar made a presentation to prime minister Manmohan Singh about the way the food ministry is planning to ease controls on the sugar industry.

The issue of the Supreme Court's latest order on free distribution of foodgrains to the poor instead of allowing it to rot might have figured during the meeting, they said.

The minister also discussed in detail how withdrawal of curbs on the sugar sector would benefit consumers and farmers, sources said.

In the presentation, sources said, the ministry is understood to have proposed to do away with the system to fix the monthly quota of sugar for sale in open market and public distribution system (PDS).

To meet the requirement of sugar for ration shops, the ministry has suggested buying sugar from the open market. At present, mills are obligated to sell 20% of their produce to the government for distribution through PDS.

It has also suggested that farmers should be given freedom to sell their produce. Currently, growers can sell sugarcane to designated mills only, sources said.

Last month, Mr Pawar had said the ministry is preparing a proposal for decontrol of sector, which would be sent to various ministries for their views before taking it to Cabinet.

He had made it clear that the government would continue to fix the Fair and Remunerative Price (FRP) of sugarcane to protect the farmers' interest. FRP is the minimum price that mills have to pay to procure cane.


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