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Panel recommends simplification of book-keeping norms for small firms

Vinson Kurian

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM, April 7

THE first report by the Law Reforms Committee set up by the State Government has proposed that a suitable legislation be enacted to spare small establishments employing not more than 50 persons from complying with the taxing administrative requirements as envisaged in the extant law regime.

The proposed Bill has been titled The Kerala Labour Laws (Simplification of Returns and Registers of Small Establishments) Bill, 2002, sources in the Law Department said.

In the background note to the drafting of the Bill, the committee has observed that rules and regulations framed under various labour laws enacted by the State Legislature provide for maintenance of registers in the prescribed form and periodical submission of returns in the prescribed forms.

Over time, the number and frequency of these returns and applications for renewal have increased, casting a burden on small businesses.

There have been persistent demands from small business and industrial establishments for the simplification and reduction in the number of forms and registers required to be maintained or submitted by small establishments. In order to provide for the exemption of employers in relation to establishments employing a small number of persons from furnishing returns and maintaining registers under certain Central laws, the Parliament has enacted Labour Laws (exemption from furnishing registers by certain establishments) Act, 1998.

With a view to facilitating the growth of small industries and business in the State and to reduce their administrative work, it is proposed that a small establishment in which not more than 50 persons are employed will be required to maintain only three muster registers. Under the new legislation, these establishments must submit only one Core Return in lieu of the existing returns prescribed under various State Labour Laws.

However, in view of the special requirements of social security legislations such as recovery of contribution from employers and employees, their accountability and reimbursement etc, no relaxation is being proposed in such matters, sources in the department said.

In the proposed Bill, `Establishment' would have the meaning assigned to it in a Scheduled Act, and includes, a "commercial or other establishment" as defined in Section 2 of the Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1960 (34 of 1960). On and from the commencement of this Act, the Scheduled Acts shall have effect subject to the provisions of this Act.

`Schedule' has been taken to mean the grouping of related legislations such as The Kerala Shops and Commercial Establishments Act, 1960 (34 of 1960), The Kerala Casual, Temporary, Badli Workers (Wages) Act, 1989 (1 of 1990), The Kerala Payment of Subsistence Allowance Act, 1973 (27 of 1973), The Kerala Industrial Establishments (National and Festival Holidays) Act, 1958 (47 of 1958), The Kerala Industrial Employees Payment of Gratuity Act, 1970 (6 of 1970) and The Kerala Head Load Workers Act, 1978 (20 of 1980).

Memorandum with respect to delegated legislation explains that Clause 8 of the proposed Bill would seek to empower the State Government to add or delete any entry in the schedule. It also empowers the Government to make rules to carry out the purpose of the Act.

Such rules may provide for the form of Core Return to be furnished, and the form of registers to be maintained by the employers. Clause 9 of the Bill seeks to empower the Government to issue orders for removing difficulties in giving effect to the provision of the Act.

The matter to be prescribed or the orders or notifications to be issued are matters of procedure and details, and are of routine and administrative in nature. Further, the rules are subject to the scrutiny by the Legislative Assembly after issue. The delegation of legislative power is, therefore, of a normal character, the memorandum states.

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