SHAMSUL GHANI (feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Feb 1 - 7, 2010

The SECP set up in pursuance of Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan Act 1997 became operational in January1999. At the outset, it was mandated to oversee and regulate corporate sector and capital markets of Pakistan. With the expansion in country's financial sector, especially during the last decade, the mandate of SECP was also expanded according to which the regulation of insurance sector, non-bank finance companies (modarabas, leasing, mutual funds etc.) and private pensions also fell under the domain of SECP.

The oversight and supervision of external services providers to the corporate and financial sectors was also entrusted to SECP. These external services providers included chartered accountants, credit rating agencies, corporate secretaries, brokers, surveyors etc. With the momentous change in SECP's role, the dynamics of this apex regulatory body have also changed.

Efficient and cost effective systemic improvements are what the experts order for this critically placed regulatory authority. In this age of changing technology and the resultant time constraints, efficient and time saving on-line paperless procedures for documentation and information exchange are the only recipe to keeping pace with the fast changing business environment.

SECP has recently launched a campaign to inform and educate the corporate sector personnel about its e-services project that has been designed to promote efficiency and afford its corporate subjects ease and comfort.

The Institute of Cost and Management Accountants of Pakistan (ICMAP) is an organization that not only maintains a sustained production of quality business managers and accountants, but also acts as a bridge between the regulatory authorities and all-important sectors of economy.

The seminars organized by this basically educational organization go a long way in disseminating vital information through face-to-face dialogue situations. It ensures the presence of concerned higher authorities before an educated audience from the relevant sectors of economy. The human interface helps to swiftly resolve the ambiguities and anomalies that may arise from the introduction of certain new rules or induction of changes in the existing systems and procedures. The recent seminar ICMAP, arranged under the aegis of its Karachi Branch Council (KBR) on 26th at its head office, was aimed at user-orientation of SECP's e-services project.

The chief guest for the occasion was Registrar SECP, Jawed Hussain.

Hammad Raza Zaidi, the existing KBC chairman, read his welcome address. This was the first seminar after his assuming the office of KBC as chairman. The rostrum was then taken over by Ibtesam Moatisim Khan, Director, MIS-SECP. In fact, he was the person around whom the program revolved, as he discussed at length the application and operation of the on-line registration and document-submission procedure.

Jawed Hussain supported him with his knowledgeable comments during the question answer session. The audience comprised corporate sector representatives with only one lady representing the professional consultancy sector and the press and media people.

Ibtesam told the audience that the e-services project was launched in September 2008, and since then seminars were being held at different cities and venues to make the corporate sector representatives fully conversant with the procedural and operational details. Around 20 to 25 percent of the formerly registered companies and around 30 percent of the new companies are making use of this on-line program. SECP has entered into an arrangement with National Institutional Facilitation Technologies (NIFT) that will provide a digital signature certificate to the program users at a subsidized rate - @Rs.1,150 instead of the normal rate of Rs.2,750.

Under this arrangement, SECP guarantees to NIFT a sale of at least 25,000 certificates each year. The accent points of the software developed for the purpose included requirement of an internet explorer 5.5 and above

Java Runtime Environment (JRE), 1.4 and above version; internet connection (the software is not user-friendly with Mozilla browser); digital signature certificate to be obtained from NIFT; already incorporated companies to obtain user ID password from SECP by using this program; the e-mail should be pop-free; no format other than Pdf is acceptable; the file size must not exceed 2MB; and for un-incorporated companies, a separate procedure is to be followed according to which 'name reservation' with the SECP is to be undertaken and then the incorporation process to be completed within 90 days' time.

Since registration, fee payment has not yet on-lined. A program generated fee challan is to be used for manual payment into the designated branch of MCB. After deposit of fee challan, the 'start process' button must be pressed to complete the procedure. A transaction ID will be given by SECP only after the process is complete. Once the process is complete, no rectification can be made.

Concern about someone else unlawfully using the user ID password was expressed and discussed at length. The chief guest promised to take note of the concern and came up with some foolproof technique as an answer to it. The chief guest, in response to a question, informed the audience that the system presently being used by FBR can not be adopted as it will require major changes in law which at this stage was not possible. He further said that Indian and Canadian systems were also studied and the Canadian system was found suitable for future adoption.

The program was concluded with the closing remarks by Qaiser Mufti, former ICMAP chairman, and finally a vote of thanks by Abdul Wasay Khan, secretary KBC.