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PMO steps on reforms gas

Amid growing apprehension that the parliamentary logjam is holding back policy reforms, the PMO has laid down specific action plans for ministries and departments with a focus on time-bound implementation. Gaurav Choudhury & Aloke Tikku report Pressure on PM’s men?

business Updated: Sep 12, 2011 01:38 IST

Amid growing apprehension that the parliamentary logjam is holding back policy reforms in critical areas, the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has laid down specific action plans for ministries and departments with a focus on time-bound implementation.

Last week, the PMO asked the corporate affairs ministry to come out with a definite plan within two months to empower the Serious Fraud Investigation Office (SFIO) with a statutory status with punitive powers.

Another demand is to include enabling provisions in the Companies Bill to bring greater representation of women on the boards of companies. Pressure on PM’s men

These decisions were taken at review meeting convened last week by the Prime Minister's principal secretary TKA Nair with secretaries of five ministries and departments — corporate affairs, textiles, commerce, micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and heavy industries. It was the second review meeting in less than a fortnight.

Late last month, Nair had met the secretaries of nine ministries and departments, including coal, power, mines, petroleum and natural gas, steel and new and renewable energy to give fillip to the energy sector.

In the case of the SFIO, the PMO has specifically asked that the new proposals be drafted within 60 days to leave sufficient time to iron out for inter-ministerial differences before the Companies Bill is tabled in Parliament in the winter session.

The PMO wants that an SFIO investigation report is treated on par with police reports in courts to enable faster prosecution.

The Companies Bill is aimed at overhauling corporate governance norms and grant shareholders with greater powers to defend their rights.

The PMO has also asked the corporate affairs ministry to ensure that the Bill contain specific provisions for giving greater representation to women on boards of companies.

Industry body Assocham in a study released earlier this year stated that at present, of 1,112 directorships of 100 Bombay Stock Exchange-listed companies, only 59 positions — or 5.3% — are held by women. This compares poorly with 15 % in Canada, 14.5% in the US and 12.2% in Britain.