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Ministry of Corporate Affairs releases the Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting

Ministry of Corporate Affairs releases the Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting

Rajesh Verma, Secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) released the ‘Report of the Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting (BRR)’ here today.

The BRR was released in the presence of Dr. Sameer Sharma, DG, IICA; Amarjeet Singh, Executive Director, SEBI; Atul Gupta, president, ICAI: Ashish Garg, president, ICSI and R. Mukundan, CEO, Tata Chemicals, besides representatives from CII, FICCI, ASSOCHAM and individuals from business, academia and civil society organisations.

While releasing the report, Rajesh Verma, Secretary, MCA, appreciated the efforts of the committee in proposing such a robust reporting framework and said that MCA will work closely with SEBI for its implementation. He also emphasised the fact that Indian companies are aspiring to have global foothold and thus they cannot ignore the emerging trend of Corporate Governance i.e. Responsible Business. He also urged the professional institutes and business associations to carry out the advocacy campaign for BRSR and capacity building of their respective members.

Highlighting the data and trends on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) investing globally, Amarjeet Singh, Executive Director, SEBI said that due to increasing trends of ESG investing, the demand for non-financial reporting is also growing and in this respect the BRSR framework will set the stage for sustainable investing.

Talking about the recent national and international development in the field of Responsible Business, Dr. Sameer Sharma, DG, IICA, said that IICA is taking forward the initiative and launching a certificate course on Responsible Business Conduct (RBC) from August 2020.

As a chairman of the Committee on BRR, Gyaneshwar Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, MCA, highlighted the paradigm shift in the business operations from shareholder’s perspective to stakeholders and importance of non-financial reporting. He also shared the key recommendations of the committee and acknowledge the efforts made by the committee members.

The Report of the Committee is available on the website of the Ministry of Corporate Affairs i.e. www.mca.gov.in.

Background

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs has been taking various initiatives for ensuring responsible business conduct by companies. As a first step towards mainstreaming the concept of business responsibility, the ‘Voluntary Guidelines on Corporate Social Responsibility’ were issued in 2009. These guidelines were subsequently revised as ‘National Voluntary Guidelines on Social, Environmental and Economic Responsibilities of Business, 2011 (NVGS)’ after extensive consultations with business, academia, civil society organizations and the government.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) through its ‘Listing Regulations’ in 2012 mandated the top 100 listed entities by market capitalization to file Business Responsibility Reports (BRRs) from an environmental, social and governance perspective. These BRRs enabled business to demonstrate the adoption of the NVG principles and the attendant core elements with the intent of engaging businesses more meaningfully with their stakeholders going beyond regulatory financial compliance. This was extended to top 500 companies in FY 2015-16 and further extended to top 1000 companies in December, 2019.

Taking into account the national and international developments in the arena of business and human rights since 2011, the NVGs have been updated and released as NGRBC (National Guidelines on Responsible Business Conduct) in March 2019 to reveal alignments with the UNGPs, UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Paris Agreement on Climate change etc.

In furtherance to updation and formulation of the NGRBCs, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs had constituted a ‘Committee on Business Responsibility Reporting’ to develop new BRR formats for listed and unlisted companies. The Committee comprised of representatives from MCA, SEBI, three professional institutes, and two eminent professionals who had worked on developing the NGRBCs.

After extensive consultations with various stakeholders including businesses and their associations, professional institutes, academia, civil society organizations, central Ministries and Departments, the Committee submitted its Report to the Central Government. In its Report, the Committee recommended a new reporting framework called as the ‘Business Responsibility and Sustainability Report (BRSR)’ to better reflect the intent and scope of reporting on non-financial parameters. The Committee recommended two formats for disclosures: one ‘comprehensive format’ and the second a ‘Lite version’. The Committee further recommended that the implementation of the reporting requirements should be done in a gradual and phased manner. The Committee also recommended that the BRSR be integrated with the MCA21 portal. As a long-term measure, the Committee envisions that the information captured through BRSR filings be used to develop a Business Responsibility-Sustainability Index for companies.

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