This article is written by Ms. Kishita Gupta from Unitedworld School of Law, Karnavati University, Gandhinagar. In this, she has discussed various opportunities that are available to a Company Secretary in the government sector.
Table of Contents
In India, the designation of a Company Secretary (CS) is recognised by the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) which is the only recognized professional body in India set up under the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 that aims to develop and regulate the profession in question. Company Secretaries are in high demand both in India and overseas, without a doubt. The course is based on the Companies Act of 2013, which is rooted in the Indian legal and political structure but has little application outside of India. But not to be disheartened, there are a plethora of other opportunities available to a CS in India. Thus, in the article, the author will be discussing the scope of CS in the government sector.
Skills of Company Secretary
To begin with this article, we need to, first of all, understand what is meant by the term Company Secretary and who is it being referred to?
So, the Company Secretary is a critical position with significant clout at the heart of an organization’s governance activities. Governance in this context refers to how a company’s strategy and decision-making are directed and regulated, as well as how it achieves its goals and ensures that all actions are carried out in accordance with legal, ethical, and regulatory criteria.
Sections 2(1)(c) and 7 of the Company Secretaries Act, 1980 describe any person to be designated as a Company Secretary if they are a member of the ICSI.
Company Secretaries have a wide range of skills, including corporate law, finance, governance, strategy, and corporate secretarial practice; they advise a company’s board of directors on these important matters, as well as giving support to the Board of Directors and KMP. As a Company Secretary, one has access to a wide range of employment roles in a number of industries, a wide range of duties, a fast route to high-level positions, working with the board, the ability to make six-figure salaries, and many more.
PSUs exist and operate in India in three forms. First, there are Departmental Undertakings, such as railways, postal services, and broadcast (Doordarshan and All India Radio), which are under the supervision of one government ministry and are financed and regulated by another.
Second, statutory public corporations, such as the Food Corporation of India and the Life Insurance Corporation of India which are established by the Parliament or state legislatures by passing an Act that defines the powers, functions, management, organizational, and administrative structures of such corporations.
Finally, public sector undertakings (PSUs) include government corporations. If the Central or any state government, individually or cumulatively, owns 51 percent or more of a company’s paid-up capital, it is considered a government company or PSU. Hindustan Machine Tools Limited, Steel Authority of India Limited, and others are examples.
The public sector altogether strives to achieve the following goals:
- To encourage rapid economic development by building and expanding infrastructure;
- To obtain financial resources for development;
- To encourage income and wealth redistribution;
- To generate job opportunities;
- To encourage regional growth that is both balanced and sustainable;
- To promote the growth of small-scale and ancillary industries;
- To promote exports and substitute imports more quickly.
Corporate governance in public sector
The Companies Act, 2013, the SEBI Rules on Corporate Governance, and the DPE guidelines on Corporate Governance for Central Public-Sector Enterprises provide the corporate governance framework for India’s listed PSUs. Non-listed PSUs are not subject to SEBI guidelines.
In practice, the Company Secretary’s job has expanded far beyond the minimum legislative duties. The duty for creating and executing measures to promote and maintain good corporate governance has primarily fallen under the purview of the Company Secretary. The boardroom dynamics are shifting, and the chairman and directors are realizing that they require specialized skills and technical understanding in this area, and they are turning to Company Secretaries for assistance. There are a variety of responsibilities where the Company Secretary can assist and contribute value to the organization with their specific expertise and technical knowledge.
Roles of a CS in the sector
In relation to the Board
- Verify that the right tone has been set;
- Board induction must reaffirm the organization’s commitment to good governance;
- Board charters must be clear on governance principles;
- Keep an eye on conflict of interest statements;
- Be a stickler for policy compliance (must be approved by the Board);
- Keep the Board informed about legislative changes (Treasury Regulations etc.);
- Maintain a positive connection with the shareholders;
- Report any governance failures to the proper authorities;
- Maintain proper meeting administration and records;
- Be prepared to change meeting dates on short notice.
In relation to management and staff
- To check if the Companies Act is followed by the public sector organisation;
- Effective and timely communication between management, the board of directors, and the shareholders;
- The Company Secretary serves as a vital link between the government and the management;
- Must be the first point of contact for governance-related questions;
- Governance policies must be enforced;
- Be adamant about good governance practice;
- Timely corporate governance reporting;
- Timely training on governance legislation and codes of practice;
- Initiate remedial action on any governance-related failures;
- Ensure compliance with labour laws.
In relation to the public sector
- To ensure that the required legislation and governance structures are in place for the public sector they are working for.
- Areas of excellence that must be maintained by the CS:
- Media freedom;
- National Treasury and its tight procurement/Supply Chain Management regime;
- The Reserve Bank and the tight monetary policy;
- Financial management, banking and audit systems which are admired across the globe;
- Brilliant, committed public servants across the sector;
- The national road (highway) network.
Job opportunities for a CS in the public sector
The Company Secretaries have a vast scope in the government sector of India. In several sectors, there are numerous government job opportunities for a Company Secretary. Following are some of the roles that a CS can pursue in the public sector:
- Legal and Secretarial Officer;
- Finance Officer;
- Company Secretary and Compliance Officer;
- Corporate Communication and public relations;
- Taxation Expert;
- International Trade and WTO Services;
- Takeover Code, Mergers and Amalgamation Expert;
- Securities Compliance and Certification Services;
- Public Issues, Securities and Listings Management;
- Representation Service;
- Secretarial Compliance;
- Audit Compliance and Certifications Services;
- Corporate Governance Services;
- Corporate and Financial Advisory Services;
- Corporate Secretarial Services.
Although the titles of these roles and designations will differ from one office to the next, the basic skill set requirements for each of these roles will be similar. Government vacancies are advertised on the official websites of numerous Ministries’ departments for which the CS can apply.
If a CS wants to work on the more exciting side of the job spectrum, one can apply for offices that are jointly controlled by the government and private organisations. At the private end of such workplaces, the work culture and climate are more or less similar to that of a corporate office, and it is always dynamic and bustling.
Audits and financial adjustments, as well as managing human resources, setting ground rules and managing partnership regulations, and providing legal guidance for any dispute concerns, will keep a Company Secretary in an active mode always.
Examples of job opportunities for CS
Under this, we will be analysing some notifications by the government sector enterprises that offered jobs to the Company Secretaries and the requirements that they had for the same.
Qualification requirement – Bachelor’s Degree in any discipline plus Associate/Fellow Membership of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI). Preference was to be given to candidates having a degree in Law.
Age Limit – 45 years
Monthly salary – Rs.80,000/- (All inclusive)
Experience – Should have minimum 5 years post qualification experience (ACS) w.r.t. to Company Secretarial functions at reputed companies with minimum Rs. 1000 crores turnover in the current company. Candidates with working experience in the aviation industry, preferably in MRO would be given preference.
Job description – The post carries the duties and responsibilities as overall in-charge of all secretarial functions of the Company. The person has to run the secretarial department dealing with board matters, company law affairs, industrial legislation, etc.
Skills – The candidate was required to have good command over their communication skills both written & oral. The candidate was also required to have adequate knowledge of statutes, labour laws, tax laws, Companies Act, DPE guidelines & corporate governance.
Coal India Limited (CIL)
Eligibility – Graduate in any discipline from a recognized University/Institute having acquired Company Secretary qualification with Associate/Fellow Membership of ICSI.
Age limit –
- General Manager (CS): 55 years
- Chief Manager (CS): 52 years
- Senior Manager (CS): 48 years
- Manager (CS): 44 years
- Deputy Manager (CS): 40 years
- Assistant Manager (CS): 36 years
Skills required – Relevant work experience in a Company Secretarial setup with good understanding & knowledge of the Companies Act, Rules and Regulations, SCRA, SEBI, MRTP, FEMA, Listing requirements, maintenance of statutory books/ registers/ records/ etc. and the Memorandum and Articles of Association.
Skills should also include having good knowledge of the process, procedures, and formalities of public issue/ right issue/ bonus issue/ split or allotment of shares & certificates thereon/ listing of shares/ dividend payment/ monitoring activities of share transfer agents regarding share transfer/ Demat, etc.
Powergrid Corporation of India Ltd. (PGCIL)
PGCIL is also another example of a government enterprise that invited applications to fill the vacancy for the CS.
Educational qualification – Candidate must be an Associate Member of the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI).
Age limit – 18 to 29 years (There was an age relaxation for reserved category candidates as per government norms)
Pay scale – Monthly payband of Rs. 30,000-3%-1,20,000 with initial basic pay of Rs.30,000/- +IDA + HRA + Perks @ 35% of basic pay.
Experience in secretarial matters like –
- Drafting of agenda, minutes, official letter etc.,
- Conducting Board / Committees’ meetings,
- General Body Meetings; and
- Compliance with statutory requirements under Companies Act and other statutory compliance thereof.
The above mentioned were just some of the examples where the Company Secretary plays an important role. However, the post of Company Secretary holds an essential place in each and every government company. Therefore, there is a vast scope for Company Secretaries in this sector to make their career in. All one needs to do is stay updated regarding the job notifications that are posted by the enterprises that have vacancies and then apply for the suitable post when they meet the eligibility criteria.
A brief analysis of the above-mentioned job description shows that for CSs to secure a job in the government sector must be well versed in the essential statutes, rules & regulations along with good knowledge regarding corporate governance. If a CS has also earned the qualification of LLB, then CS + LLB is always more preferred than the one who is just a CS. So it’s never too late to start. If one wishes to join the government sector, they can start pursuing law as well.
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