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Strengthening Corporate Governance Through Secretarial Audit

In Education
August 17, 2019

The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) recently issued four Auditing Standards on (i) Audit Engagement (CSAS-1);(ii) Audit Process and Documentation (CSAS-2); (iii) Forming of Opinion (CSAS-3) and (iv) Secretarial Audit (CSAS-4) to promote best auditing practices, uniformity and consistency while conducting audits.

Aimed at facilitating good corporate governance, the ICSI has issued four (4) Secretarial Standards to integrate, harmonise and standardise diverse Secretarial practices followed by corporates to promote uniformity and consistency. Of these, the Secretarial Standard on Meetings of the Board of Directors (SS-1) and Secretarial Standard on General Meetings (SS-2) have been approved by the Central Government (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) and made mandatory for compliance under Section 118 (10) of the Companies Act, 2013.Secretarial Standard on Dividend (SS-3) and Secretarial Standard on Report of the Board of Directors (SS-4) are for voluntary adoption by companies.

In order to facilitate observance of Secretarial Standards, the ICSI have also issued Guidance Note on SS-1, SS-2, SS-3 and SS-4.

The ICSI UDIN or Unique Document Identification Number is a system generated alpha numeric number which provides ease of maintaining the Register of Attestation/ Certification services rendered by practicing members. While preventing counterfeiting of attestations/ certifications, UDIN shall also ensure compliance
of the Guidelines issued by the Institute with respect to ceilings on the number of certification / attestation services.

The ICSI PCS Portal attempts to bridge the gap between Company Secretaries in Practice with their vast and unique skill set to be easily found by the corporates in need of their specialised services. The Portal provides stakeholders with a ‘skill based search’ and a ‘name based search’ to assist corporates looking for professionals as per their needs.

With the intent of monitoring the appointment and cessation of a Company Secretary in employment, ICSI has launched Employment Specific Unique Identification Number of a Company Secretary (eCSin). eCSin shall be a random system generated alphanumeric number, generated at the time of appointment as well as at the time of demitting office. The main objective of eCSin is to bring greater transparency, ensure better governance and facilitate verification of authenticity of employment.

Reforms in Examination
To provide to the students ease in undertaking the examination, the ICSI has decided to modify the examination schedule from December, 2019 session onwards wherein for the CS Executive Programme one paper of Module-I shall be followed by one paper of Module-II. Similarly, for the CS Professional Programme, one paper of Module-I shall be followed by one paper of Module-II and one paper of Module- III, and the cycle shall be further repeated across the entire schedule.

International Commerce Olympiad – MoU with Science Olympiad Foundation
In an attempt to create awareness about the profession of Company Secretaries among school Students, the Institute has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Science Olympiad Foundation for conducting International Commerce Olympiad recently.

Study Centre Scheme
To break the distance barriers and provide better facilities to the students ICSI has over 100 Study Centres across the Country covering remote places including Lakshadweep, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, North Eastern States and Puducherry.

Concession in Fee for Registration to CS Course
– The Institute has decided to grant the Concession in Fee for Registration to CS Course to the Widows and Wards of Martyrs, Permanent Disability cases, Serving / Retired Personnel of Indian Army, Indian Air Force, Indian Navy and all para military forces.
– The Institute has decided to grant 50% concession in fee  for students belonging to Jammu & Kashmir (UT), Ladakh (UT),  Andaman & Nicobar Islands (UT) , Lakshwadeep (UT) and North Eastern States (7 Sisters + Sikkim) for registration of students to Foundation and Executive Programme Stages of CS Course. The Scheme will be effective from 1st September, 2019,

‘Shaheed Ki Beti’ Initiative
Under the ‘Shaheed Ki Beti’ initiative, the Institute has discontinued the practice of giving mementoes, etc. to the dignitaries/ speakers invited for various programmes of the Institute and the said amount is transferred to the dedicated corpus to be utilized for the education/ welfare of the daughters of martyrs. The Institute takes pride in the fact that within three months of the launch of this novel initiative in 2017, an amount of Rs.5 Lakh was generated and credited to the corpus created for this initiative. So far Rs. 20 lacs have been donated to the Ministry of Defence.

ICSI Signature Award Scheme
Under the ICSI Signature Award Scheme, top rank holders in B.Com. and other specialized programmes/ papers of IITs / IIMs are awarded a Gold Medal and a Certificate. As on date ,  under the ICSI Signature Award initiative , 33 Universities have associated with ICSI . Twenty three (23) Gold Medals have been awarded under this scheme. Recently ICSI Signature Award Gold medal was presented to Toppers of the B.Com Course of Punjab University at Chandigarh and   Pt. Ravi Shankar Shukla University at Raipur, Chhattisgarh

ICSI Students Education Fund Trust
The Institute has created ‘ICSI Students Education Fund Trust’ to encourage and motivate academically bright but economically backward students to pursue CS Course thus contributing to the objectives of nation building and social responsibility.

In its endeavor to perfect the role of India’s GST Partner, ICSI has launched initiatives like GST Newsletter, GST Educational Series, GST Point, GST APP, etc. Various publications have also been released for building capacity of members, students and related stakeholders.

Malaysian Association of Company Secretaries (MACS)
MCA has approved the adoption of Secretarial Standards formulated by ICSI and approved by the Government of India under sub-section (10) of Section118 of the Companies Act, 2013, for the purpose of benchmarking MACS’s own Standards. ICSI and Malaysian Association of Company Secretaries (MACS) have also agreed to enter into an MoU for reciprocal paper-wise exemption.

Recognition of Corporate Governance, Compliances and Secretarial Advisory Services (CGCSAS) In the Form of Updating The WTO Services Sectoral Classification List
ICSI is pursuing with the Ministry of Commerce, Government of India for its recommendation to the WTO Secretariat for inclusion of a new Head of Corporate Governance, Compliances and Secretarial Advisory Services (CGCSAS) in the Services Sectoral Classification of WTO and submitted the copy of Corporate Secretaries of International Association (CSIA) proposal to the WTO for the recognition of CGCSAS.

PMQ Course in Corporate Governance
The Institute, a reckoned pioneer in corporate governance, offers PMQ Course in Corporate Governance for its members who aim to be professionals par excellence to provide thorough knowledge of the global trends and developments so as to have an integrated view of the entire framework for corporate governance enabling them to master and apply the principles and practices of good corporate governance in real life situations.

Certificate Course on Certified CSR Professional and Certificate Course in GST
The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) is a premier professional body set up under an Act of Parliament, i.e., Company Secretaries Act, 1980, for the regulation and development of the profession of Company Secretaries in India. It functions under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Government of India. The Institute, being a pro-active body, focuses on best and top-quality education to students of Company Secretaries Course and best quality set standards for CS members. The Institute has over 58,000 members and about 3.5 lakh students on its roll.