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Company secretaries pay Cancun cost

New Delhi, Sept. 18: The Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) plans to sign bipartite deals with similar bodies abroad to help Indian company secretaries find work in those countries.

The Cancun round of WTO talks was supposed to help Indian professionals get a toehold abroad through a deal on services. However, with the deal stalled, ICSI is hoping bilateral pacts will facilitate similar movement of human capital.

The institute has already signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with ICSA, London. The ICSA allows Indian company secretaries to practise in the UK after clearing a set of three extra papers.

Speaking to The Telegraph, ICSI president Pavan Kumar Vijay said, “Our company secretaries can now, after acquiring the requisite qualifications, go to the UK as well as a other commonwealth countries where ICSI has its branches.”

“Already 142 members have qualified and about a dozen of them are already working as company secretaries in the UK and some other commonwealth countries,” Vijay said.

“The institute has also started discussions with the Singapore Association of ICSA,” he said. The deal would open the way for Indian company secretaries to practice in many of the South-east Asian countries where there is a growing need for competent company secretaries.

“The opening up of the professional services under GATS (General Agreement on Trade and Services) would have helped our company secretaries to go global,” he said.

ICSI had sent a proposal to its administrative ministry — the department of company affairs (DCA) — to treat company secretaries as separate central product classification (CPC) in the GATS talk at the WTO meet. CPC means recognising the profession as an entity in itself rather than clubbing it with other services.

At present, there are 17,000 company secretaries in India. “The idea is that a company secretary should not only be able to fill the forms for compliance, in tune with the legal requirements, but be an expert on managing those compliances in the organisation,” Vijay said.

“We want to change the company secretary’s image so that he can be looked upon as the chief business officer (CBO).

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