CS Nagendra D Rao, President, ICSI

ॐ सर्वेभर्वन्तुसुखिनः। सर्वेसन्तुननरामयाः।
सर्वेभद्रानि पश्यन्तु। मा कनित्दुःि भाग्भर्वेत्॥
May All be Happy, May All be Free from Illness.
May All See what is Auspicious, May all prosper without suffering.

The primary reason as to why the Budget Session of the Parliament is one of the most significant events can be attributed to the fact that it is this very day and the speech of the Hon’ble Minister of Finance shares the Dream Plan for the economy and the vision as to where the goal plans, expectations, initiatives and actions lie as regards the various comprising segments of the Economy.

The six pillars on which the Foundation of the budget for the financial year 2021-22 has been laid are the ones demanding maximum attention in the present times. Health & well-being, Physical & financial capital & infrastructure, Inclusive development for aspirational India, Reinvigorating human capital, Innovation & R&D, and Minimum Government & Maximum Governance; each pillar comes with its own set of needs and yet one which will reap far-reaching and long-term impact.

Amongst others, since Governance forms part of the Budget as one of the six pillars, the same is accompanied by dedicated actions and initiatives, the intended course is heartily welcomed by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). Unveiled by the Hon’ble Finance Minister Smt. Nirmala Sitharaman on 1st February, 2021, the Union Budget 2021 proposes several reforms for the India Inc. including the persuasion of digital transformation in the Regulatory arena building a new MCA-21 3.0 using data analytics, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. With AI based features being inculcated, the times to follow shall witness a much stronger governance framework encasing the Indian Corporate Sector and a much enhanced role play for the Governance Professionals.

The reforms proposed under the Companies Act, 2013 as well as the Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008; from amendment in definitions to decriminalization of offences, come across as definitive and resolute attempts to enhance the ease of doing business in the Indian Diaspora. Initiatives like no income tax return filing for senior citizens above 75 years, having only pension and interest income, and setting up of faceless dispute resolution committee for individual tax payers, is indeed applaudable on the part of the Government that ease is being provided in compliance under the Taxation Laws as well. With the Institute taking pride in being an extended arm of the Regulatory Authorities, the new rules for removal of double taxation for NRIs, and a reduction in the time period of tax assessments among other measures are highly appreciated.

With the Securities Markets forever being in limelight as one of the major representatives of the economic positioning of the nation, the proposition of a ‘one market code’ for rationalizing different security market regulations is a welcome step towards enhancing the advancnement in Ease of doing business (EODB) index. Allowing One Person Companies (OPCs) to grow without a restriction on paid up capital and turnover, to convert in any type of company at any time, and alterations in the residency limit would not only simplify the business processes for such companies but also bring much more businesses in the organized sector which again would strengthen the governance scenarios further.

Shifting focus upon the remaining pillars, a boost for the healthcare sector with a significant increase of 137% in the outlay and the decision to spend a major chunk on Covid-19 vaccine development and inoculation is a much needed step.

There is a complete agreement with the thought of the Hon’ble Finance Minister that for achieving a 5-trillion dollar economy, our manufacturing sector has to grow in double digits on a sustained basis and our manufacturing companies need to become an integral part of global supply chains.

If the entire Budget was to be looked at both holistically and categorically, it is indeed quite heartening to witness the efforts made in placing focus on the various sectors, segments and comprising components of the Indian Economy. Furthermore, it would indeed be a greater delight to play our roles both as Governance Professionals and as an Institute in rendering the propositions of the Budget a grand success.

I place on record the dedicated efforts of CS Lakshmi Arun and CS Saurabh Jain, Joint Directors and the entire team of Directorate of Academics, led by CS Alka Kapoor, Joint Secretary (SG) in preparation of this e-booklet.

CS Nagendra D. Rao
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India

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February 2021