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Regulators told to keep pace with demands of ‘digitised era’

Finance and Corporate Affairs Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday urged regulatory bodies such as the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the National Financial Reporting Authority (NFRA) to up their game in meeting the challenges of a digitised era by ensuring they are not left behind when the entire world adapts to greater digitisation in the next 25 years.

Regulatory bodies have to be mindful that digitisation is going to pervade all aspects of society, and they cannot afford to be behind the curve on this front, Sitharaman said at a Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) event marking the ongoing weeklong celebrations of ‘Azadi Ka Amrut Mahotsav’.

“Regulators would have to understand at what level and with what effect you have to come in and you have to be well advanced in understanding the situation than caught unaware”, she added.

It is not only enough for institutes and people coming out of them in the current digitised era to benefit from the technology developments, there is also a need for strong manpower to evolve firewalls that are so necessarily required in the current times, she added.

“The digital world we have created is for our convenience. This convenience has been tasted by every citizen. Every institution should have to equally give attention to experts who have to be with you on a constant basis understanding the challenges and strengthen and make robust the firewall mechanisms. Or else that which is making our life easy could become the biggest handicap. We will not be able to prevent any unforeseen disaster in form of hacking etc. Technology today which is so full of promise should not become a deterrent”, Sitharaman added.

Be a facilitator
For the next 25 years, there is a need to give a facilitating government policy and regulators must do the role of “handholding’ rather than being a tough regulators, Sitharaman said.

“Your (regulators) profile should be of a facilitator and one who would show the path on which this country will have to go so that youth of India will not be looking for jobs but creating jobs for delivering innovative ways for living our lives”, she said.

Sitharaman highlighted that CCI and NFRA (audit regulator) — in the next 25 years—have to be ahead of the curve to see where regulations have to fall in place, where regulations have to be a soft touch and where regulation has to be deterrent and strong enough.

“I think the next 25 years will be digital and driven by digital considerations. It could be an easy habit and we need to have agencies ready to gauge what that is going to do to fair, accountable and transparent practices”, she said.

The Finance Minister said that both CCI and NFRA are going to play a key role in the Indian economy in the next 25 years. She also said that government intends to soon refer a few cases to NFRA for regulatory consideration. As for CCI, she noted that digitisation will impact markets and competition issues are going to come up time and again that would need the regulator’s intervention.

Sitharaman lauded the efforts of the MCA in taking a proactive futuristic approach during the pandemic times while making compliance easier for corporates. As many as 1.67 lakh new companies were incorporated in the country in 2021-22 as against 1.55 lakh companies in 2020-21. “MCA was imaginative enough to bring tech solutions to enable corporates do their compliance in a far easier manner during pandemic times”, she said.

Sitharaman said that CCI has made a major contribution in bursting cartels and controlling mergers in a very soft but significant way. CCI has been doing a significant job in making sure India’s free market is fair, she added. The Hindu BusinessLine

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