The e-governance portal of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, MCA21, may soon become a one-stop window for all regulatory clearances for multiple agencies and ministries.
The initiative was meant to find a lasting solution to the complaints from the industry and business houses that a plethora of clearances and regulatory requirements by dozens of government departments and agencies are turning establishment, management and even liquidation of registered companies a time consuming and complex affair.
At present, MCA21 system handles only regulatory filings pertaining to the Companies Act. Ministry officials said they were discussing with other ministries and departments, including the finance ministry and Securities and Exchanges Board of India (Sebi) to see if the portal could become a single interface for industry stakeholders to make mandatory filings or fulfill regulatory requirements needed under laws other than the Companies Act.
“The idea is not to own or control matters that are within the administrative purview of other ministries. We are attempting a partnership. MCA21 should become the business portal of India,” an official said.
The official said this would have several benefits. “Today, you find instances of companies filing one balance sheet to MCA and another to the tax authorities. If there is a single system, this will not happen. It gives less scope for fraudulent practices,” he said.
The ministry is also attempting to encourage other arms of the government to utilise the platform to check credentials of registered firms. “The portal should be accessible to every government agency,” he added. The ministry is likely to announce few such linkages on a pilot basis soon.
The system was recently upgraded to handle issues related to peak filing of mandatory documents. Ministry officials said the portal saw a record 70,040 filings in a single day on October 29, 2010, including 21,801 balance sheets. Similarly, e-Stamp or electronic stamp duty payment through MCA21 has emerged as a successful joint initiative of the Centre-state in e-governance for speedy service delivery to recipients of MCA21 services.
The ministry is pursuing adoptation of Extended Business Reporting Language (XBRL) that would enable the filing process on the MCA21 platform. The system could then be used for effective data analysis, regulatory enforcement and value-added services to policy formulators, researchers, the corporate sector and other stakeholders.
Today, ‘Company Master details’ containing 17 important company informations, including date of incorporation, registered office address, class of company, authorised capital and paid up capital, are in the public domain.
Against a token fee, incorporation documents, charge documents, balance sheet, annual returns and other documents filed by the companies are also available on the platform. Regulators and other government agencies are already allowed free online access to the electronic registry.