As I sit to write this, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) has announced that the city recorded 3,680 mm of rain, the second-highest total since 1958 (3,760 mm)! The downpour in the penultimate week of September was the heaviest spell this season, causing severe disruption of life.
This coincided with a ‘stormy’ monsoon session of Parliament which also set a new mark of productivity. In one of the shortest sessions in history due to Covid-19, Parliament approved 25 bills in ten days, although it was ‘stormy’ because of protests by opposition parties. Parliament clocked 167% productivity in the session – the highest in its history! Among the key bills passed were the Labour Code Bills, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 (FCRA), and The Banking Regulation (Amendment) Bill.
The three Labour Code Bills are crucial second-generation reforms to improve the ease of doing business and make the Indian labour market competitive to realise the ‘Make in India’ dream. The Bills are designed to protect the interests of the workers and ensure compliance. Its success will need to be assessed in the context of the Indian economy’s recovery from the impact of the current pandemic.
As for the FCRA Bill, 2020, NGOs are a vital and important element of civil society. Many of them implement and monitor the Government’s welfare policies, operating at the grassroots level where the official apparatus is often non-existent. No doubt the NGOs need to be transparent about their finances, sources of funding, etc. The provisions such as details of spends on administration, restricting inter-NGO money transfers and funding to be routed through a specified bank branch suggest too much micro-managing and would affect the social objective which is the biggest requirement of the hour.
Coming to co-operative banks, so far they have been under the dual control of co-operative societies as well as the RBI. Now, to protect the interests of depositors, the Lok Sabha passed an amendment to the Banking Regulation Act to bring co-operative banks under the supervision of the RBI. The Bill seeks to strengthen co-operative banks by increasing their professionalism, enabling access to capital, improving governance and ensuring sound banking. The RBI will also be able undertake a scheme of amalgamation or reconstruction of a co-operative bank without placing it under moratorium. This would go a long way in bringing much needed stability of the co-operatives under single window monitoring.
The BCAS has made various representations individually and also jointly with other sister organisations to address difficulties faced in compliances and for extension of due dates. The same are reported elsewhere in this Journal. Normally, we favour adhering to the original time lines of the compliances and generally abstain from representations for extension of due dates. But the current situation is an extraordinary one and the BCAS realised the difficulties faced by small and medium-sized practitioners in adapting to the requirements. We expect a favourable response from the Government. However, may I appeal to the members to complete the compliances to the extent possible, without waiting for any extensions.
In September, our Taxation Committee released its first publication on ‘Income Tax Settlement Commission – A Practical Guide’. It is an excellent law and practice guide on a specialised subject with FAQs. Similarly, the Corporate and Commercial Laws Committee released its twin handbook publications on ‘All about Startups and all about MSMEs’ together with their E-versions. The publications will be of tremendous use for professionals and also for the business units in that category for practical aspects with FAQs. I am thankful to all the authors and contributors. Both the publications are available for sale with the BCAS.
October is the month of Navaratri. I wish all of you a Happy Navaratri and good wishes for Dussehra.
With Best Regards,
CA. Suhas Paranjpe