Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Towards Electronic Annual Reports

Come July and one is inundated with Junkmail called "Annual Reports" of Listed Companies.All the Company Chairmans have this fascination of Glossy Annual Reports which runs to some 150-200 pages,carrying their statement-Vision( sic)- for the Company. Mug shot of the Chairman-M.D. is a must on the first page.Now with Shares being in Demat form, there are shareholders with just 5-10 shares.Rather they form the majority and each one gets this "Annual report".These days our housing society office looks like a Raddiwala's shop as most of these reports are dumped there by the Postman-They don't fit in the postbox provided to the member. How many shareholders read or even glance through these reports? Most of the Shareholders have shares of some 15-20 companies, Units of 4-5 Mutual Funds.Do they have time to go through these reports?.How many of us really understand Balancesheets of Companies and their subsidiaries reports are almost in standard format informing nothing.
So why are we supporting such waste of paper and consequent loss of forests.We take pride in being IT savy-no IT superpower (!) nation,then why cant we put our Annual reports and accounts on Website? Those interested can go through it and download-print whichever portion they want to.The cost of producing,printing and dispatching these reports must be more than Dividend received by most shareholders.Surprisingly IT Giants like Infosys sends printed reports. One can argue that Company Law requires this, but surely it can be changed.As long as Accounts are Published and are made available to Public the purpose is served.We talk of Paperless office and e-Governance and all high fandu jargon.But in practical terms its same old story repeated year after year.Its time to put stop to this nonsense,and move towards "Electronic Annual Reports"

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