Making earnest attempts to decriminalise company laws: Nirmala Sitharaman

Vikash Aiyappa

Chennai, Jan 21: Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman has said the government's earnest attempt was to decriminalise everything that has to do with Companies Law or related acts as part of initiatives towards a $5 trillion economy.

She said the government does not want a law that could treat every business house with suspicion.

Delivering the Nani Palkhiwala Memorial lecture on Sunday evening here, Sitharaman said she was impressed with the comments made by TATA Sons Ltd chairman N Chandrashekharan who remarked that the government should trust people and its own citizens.

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"My first attempt and also an earnest attempt which continues today is to decriminalise everything to do with Companies law or related laws. The very point Prime Minister (Narendra Modi) keeps talking," she said.

Sitharaman said in Companies Law, there are a number of sections leading to a criminal approach and penalties or even jail terms.

"I had gone through this with a tooth comb. Decriminalising Companies Law ensuring no other act of government whether it is Income Tax or your PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) will have such an impact.

We are making sure that aspect will be addressed," she said.

Elaborating, she said "we do not want a law which is going to treat every business house with suspicion. That is not the intent of this government at all".

She said it was one of the initiatives the government had planned as part of steps towards taking the country to a $5 trillion economy, ensuring trust between the government and businesses.

Earlier, to a query posed by a member of the audience that the government was pumping money into banks which had huge non-performing assets, she said banks are required to perform critical functions in an economy.

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Sitharaman said once PA was around Rs 10 lakh crore.

"It has come down to Rs 8 lakh crore, it has further come down now..when we are talking about NPA and when money is given to banks, it is not that the banks need to take that money and happy with that...go after those who failed the bank by not paying dues. Get the money back..," she said.

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