The News International
Published Date: Feb 14, 2018
Corporate sector can help promote social harmony
Islamabad: Sustainable Development Policy Institute Director Shafqat Munir has said that corporate sector in Pakistan has a potential to maximise the benefits of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds by allocating some of it for promoting social harmony and peace among communities as contribution to national narrative on peace building.
Addressing a press briefing on corporate social responsibility fulfilled by SDPI in the past years here Tuesday, he said that resources are available in nature and we utilise and process them to get value-added products. It is a duty of entrepreneurs to give back to the community from their earnings got from exploiting their resources like cigarette companies distributing free saplings to farmers for neutralising the effect of carbon-emitting cigarettes. He said that social effect investment is to spend money in a wider perspective, not only in the fields the companies specialise.
Munir was He said that SDPI tried to gauge the effects of extremism and social responsibility of industry and society investing in controlling religious and other types of extremism and militancy.
He said that media and NGOs are playing their role to promote peace, create social harmony and take the agenda of non-violence at international level.
He said that his NGO in a review and analysis report emphasised that private sector in the country has a role to play for development of society learning from the examples of the world renowned corporate foundations which are spending billions of dollars on the welfare of marginalised communities. He lamented that according to the he report, extremism in Pakistan had impacted the businesses and corporate sector equally badly as it did with other sectors of society.
He observed that Corporate Social Responsibility is globally recognised as a commitment of businesses to contribute to peace-building and socio-economic development of human society. CSR is exhibited in terms of providing funds to undertake initiatives to improve quality of life of people — right from their relevant communities to a larger society. Since corporations generate profits by utilising both human and natural resources that may impact people and environment, so they feel socially responsible to take care of both through CSR initiatives, not with a charity approach but with a financial responsibility towards society, he said.
He said that in Pakistan, CSR and corporate philanthropy are generally used interchangeably but some big companies, especially in the oil and gas sector, are practicing CSR to reduce social, economic and environmental impacts somehow caused by their business activities. Graduating from this, the companies need to use CSR funding for peace-building which is need of the hour in the country.
He said that the United Nation Human Rights Council in June 2011 endorsed the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the UN’s Protect, Respect and Remedy Framework” which necessitated corporate responsibility to respect human rights. He said that global businesses work with UN for protection of human rights where these are abused during conflicts and other situations as their commitment and responsibility.
Investing CSR funds for peace building will promote businesses, social well-being of the people and economic development, he said adding that the businesses in Pakistan need to promote winning hearts and minds efforts through their public campaigns and CSR practices.
The SDPI’s review and analysis report calls for the need of a law and a policy for private sector to undertake CSR activities, as, at the moment, the companies are not legally bound to practice CSR rather they are doing this under their management decisions and the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) guidelines 2013 which are non-binding, he said. The Directorate General Petroleum Concessions, Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Resources, binds Oil and Gas Sector to spend 1% of its profits on CSR, he said
In question hour, Mr Munir said that whole agenda of SDPI is SCR. Though it is not a profit-earning outfit and we are not corporate organisation, he said, SDPI still work for promoting corporate social responsibility. Responding to a question, he said that we are involving business and industry including petroleum companies for investing in society. He said that we are also approaching legislators for the purpose. Moazzam Bhatti from SDPI said that press clubs in the West, media does not work in liaison with business or industry but with media organisations to work for the welfare of media persons which is considered as corporate social responsibility. He said that this can be done in Pakistan also. Rana Nazir, Director, SDPI, said that all companies having CSR sections should consult media unions to win hearts and minds of the people including journalists’ community. Munir said that companies here are willing to work in this direction. He said that we have selected five companies who need our help in SCR.