Corporates activities open to public scrutiny as data available online: FM

Arun Jaitley, Finance minister
Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Arun Jaitley on said online availability of data has opened corporate activities to public gaze and raised the possibility of detecting any impropriety.

He said the ease at which the data is available now and is open for dissection has put pressure on everyone to ensure that there is compliance and transparency.

"It's now all open to public gaze. And being open to public gaze has its own advantages. It has the advantage that there is a pressure on everyone to make sure that compliances do take place, everyone is on his feet and realised that if there is any impropriety the possibility of it being detected is going to be very high," said Jaitley, who also holds the charge of the Corporate Affairs Ministry (MCA).

The minister was speaking at the launch of National CSR Data Portal and Corporate Data Portal of the MCA.

He said because of online availability of data, it has become easier to dissect any impropriety, including that of funds being channeled through shell companies.

"Therefore this transparency is good for the system, good for corporate India, it's good that your details to the extent that are to be made public, are being made public," Jaitley said.

With regard to corporates undertaking CSR activities, Jaitley said the 2013 amendment in the Companies Act has almost "formalised corporate philanthropy" in India.

Under the Companies Act, 2013, certain class of profitable entities are required to shell out at least two per cent of their three-year annual average net profit towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities.

Jaitley said philanthropy in India, unlike in the West, was more family and community centric, religious groups and caste groups, social groups did it.

"But corporate India didn't have a structured manner of doing it. Some did it on their own initiatives. Now even though the provisions have been incorporated persuade corporate India to move in that direction, so far I think there has been a fairly credible and positive response to it," he said.

Jaitley said a public gaze into the CSR activists through the MCA portal would further institutionalise and consolidate it.

As per the Companies Act, in case a company fails to spend the specified amount, then its board has to provide the specific reasons for the same in the board report.

A total of 5,870 companies shelled out Rs 9,553.72 crore towards CSR activities in 2014-15. In 2015-16, as many as 7,983 companies incurred CSR expenditure of Rs 13,625.24 crore, as per official data.

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