Pravin Satardekar, recently elected Chairman of Institute of Company Secretaries of India, Goa Chapter, speaks on his plans for his tenure and lists out challenges faced in the realm of corporate governance in Goa
As Chairman of Goa Chapter of ICSI, what will be your focus areas?
The kind of programs that we conduct for our members, as well as other professionals, is of high quality, despite Goa being the smallest chapter of ICSI across India. Conducting more qualitative programs would be the key focus for me and the team.
We would like to channel our resources and efforts to accentuate the scope available for company secretary professionals due to changes in the business environment and the impact of globalisation. The Board of Directors, business owners, CEOs look up to the crucial advice and consultation from company secretaries to ensure that the business dealings/transactions are in line with the regulatory requirements and conducted ethically.
There are many other areas where we can commence work as a chapter and build a good brand for our professionals to perform and exhibit their skill-set to resolve industry issues. The Chapter is also responsible for developing the next generation of skilled and ethical professionals. We wish to conduct various events and program for students with a focus to hone their skills and make them future-ready.
What have been the various initiatives of ICSI in the last few terms?
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is a premier national professional body constituted under an Act of Parliament i.e., the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 to regulate and develop the profession of Company Secretaries. The Goa Chapter of ICSI is one of the Chapters falling under the Western India Region of ICSI and was established in February 1978. From the perspective of the ICSI and awareness about CS as a profession, the Chapter has conducted various successful events and activities where many influential heads of State Government Departments have participated in the seminars organised by the Goa Chapter of ICSI. The former Chief Minister of Goa has also addressed student conferences and annual regional conferences of Goa-ICSI.
The Goa Chapter has organised various successful events such as national conventions and student conferences over the years. The ICSI Annual Regional Conference was conducted in the year 2000, 2017, and 2021
For all these programmes, the Chapter has enjoyed a lot of support from local corporate houses from time to time.
Currently, the Goa chapter is graded as a Silver chapter with over 150 zestful members and 500 plus students. The Chapter has entered into academic collaborations with colleges in Goa and organises webinars for students where we explain and guide them about the curriculum of the course. In the previous year, Goa Chapter has conducted around 25 plus career awareness programs and webinars. On the social front, we organised a blood donation drive, entered into an MoU with Wockhardt Hospital for special medical treatment of our members and students, tree plantation drive, and planted more than 100 trees in collaboration with the plant nursery, Roopkesari Vatika. In line with the ICSI guidelines, Goa Chapter has implemented an exceptional ‘Shaheed ki Beti’ concept whereby the corpus generated out of this scheme is used for providing financial support to the girl child of army martyrs for her higher education.
Tell us about your team and what they bring to the table?
I am glad to have a wonderful team with me on this journey. That makes my stint more enjoyable and full of excitement. My team includes CS Priya Chimulkar, Vice-Chairman; CS Swapnil Dixit, Secretary; CS Narendra Shirodkar, Treasurer; CS Divya S. Pai Vernekar, Member; CS Abhijit Gaonkar, Member; and CS Abhijit Rane, Member. With a balanced mix of professionals from employment and practice, collectively the team brings in a wide range of industry experience and expertise. Advocate Rama S. Ramarao, Faculty, and Career Councillor has been a great support to the Chapter and has spearheaded career counselling and other student related programs very effectively. I am sure that with all of my committee colleagues and Vasant Kerkar and Neha Gawas from the office staff, we as a team will be able to add value to the chapter activities and be of service to our members and the industry.
There has been a lot of changes to the Companies Act. How do you plan to sensitise industry to these changes?
Yes, the ways and practices in which the businesses operate have undergone a sea change. Globalisation has added further pressure on it, demanding the implementation of international standards and regulations in the compliance systems. No doubt, more than the 50 years old Companies Act was also finally revamped by the Government of India in 2013. The new Act posed mammoth compliance issues like addressing related party transactions, appointment, and terms of independent directors, increased roles, and responsibilities of directors, appointment of Statutory Auditors, Mandatory Secretarial Audits, etc. On a larger scale, the data of corporates are being synchronised with that of Income-tax (direct tax) and GST (indirect tax). The emphasis from the regulator is on ‘disclosure’ and ‘compliance’, which well-trained CS professionals could ensure for the corporates.
You may know that the Proxy Advisory Institutions provide advisory services to the investors recommending to them the effect of their vote in their shareholding and other corporate decisions. Having a qualified CS professional to study all such intricate corporate matters and adopting the best governance approach would certainly pay off in the long run.
The ICSI plays a key role by prescribing its standards/advisories while addressing such issues. Various programs preferably held jointly with regulatory bodies are conducted for professionals and business executives to understand the legal requirements and how to ensure compliance. The Chapter/ICSI can act as a link between the industry and regulators. On many occasions, representations are made by the ICSI to the Ministry of Corporate Affairs or such other regulators explaining the ground difficulties faced by the industries and have availed the necessary reliefs for corporates like extension in filing returns, conducting of Board or Shareholders Meeting, etc.
What challenges do you foresee in the realm of corporate governance in Goa? What is ICSI’s plan to mitigate these challenges?
Unfortunately, ‘Corporate Governance’ has just remained a buzzword and is followed by a very few in its true spirit. The organisations which has understood this have been reaping benefits in terms of investors’ trust, better corporate image, public faith, and government support. Goa has witnessed less industrialisation as compared to other States, that too concentrated only in a few select areas like tourism, agriculture, shipbuilding, mining, etc. However, it is worth noting that those prominent business houses in Goa which could integrate best governance practices into their business are still afloat despite facing many challenges and continuously scaling some greater heights.
Corporate Governance is not a static phenomenon. It is ever-evolving and that is where there is a need for professionals who can drive the business organisation towards the balanced betterment of all stakeholders.
What initiatives have you planned to bring industry closer to the ICSI Goa chapter?
I am of the firm belief that there is a lot of potential for CS professionals in the industry and they can genuinely contribute in more areas than just in the company law compliance. The chapter cannot afford to function in isolation. It needs to have onboard Goan industrialists while being able to understand their views, expectations, and plan accordingly to deliver what is in demand. Our courses, study materials, industrial training everything shall be in sync with the industry requirements. We would like to invite business people and industry experts from all diverse areas to interact with our members/students, so that the bond grows stronger.
We need to join hands with more professional bodies like GCCI, CII, GMA, GIM, and other industrial forums where industry people interact regularly to draw more synergies between these institutions and offer the best skill-sets to the industry