In early April, the Alliance for Integrity’s Trainer Working Group India met virtually to discuss how to support companies, especially SMEs that are facing enormous economic challenges, in their efforts to achieve compliance and integrity in these uncertain times. The trainers agreed on a two-step action plan covering short- and medium-term objectives.
In the short term, a series of webinars on relevant topics will be organised aiming to help SMEs respond to the challenges caused by the pandemic. Regarding delivery difficulties, Bhavna Arora, Head of the Legal & Compliance Department of TÜV Rheinland India Pvt. Ltd., pointed out that the interpretation and application of the "force majeure" clause in contracts may help SMEs to defend their inability to provide goods or services.
Accordingly, Dinesh Agrawal, an independent consultant, stressed that even though the Government has extended the deadlines for outstanding permits, releases and other restrictions for the companies by three months, i.e. from March to June, it has not waived either permits or conditions. This means that companies are under enormous pressure to submit compliance documentation in one go from March to June which will further increase the workload of compliance officers.
In addition, Ashish Jain, representative of Giesecke & Devrient MS India Pvt. Ltd. suggested a webinar to explain the changes to various compliance laws, including the timeline and penalty clause.
In the medium term it was decided that the ‘Vyapaar se Vyapaar ko’ business integrity trainings will be converted into virtual modules. Digitisation is not only important in terms of nationwide distribution, but it would still be difficult to return to the one-day training sessions after the lockdown. This was not an easy decision. As Mr. Agrawal rightly emphasised, two of the most essential features of the business integrity trainings are the direct interaction with the participants and the protected space in which they can openly discuss the challenges they are facing. After careful deliberation, the trainers proposed to divide the ‘Vyapaar se Vyapaar ko’-training modules into sessions of 45-60 minutes each, accompanied with a small self-assessment and Q&A session once per month. These proposals will be taken up for discussion with the Alliance for Integrity’s Task Force on digitisation of business integrity trainings.
The Working Group further agreed on a monthly meeting to continue working on the business integrity trainings.
Author: Seema Choudhary