This article has been written by Mansi Singh, a 1st year student of Amity Law School , Raipur Chhattisgarh
Keeping in mind the loss caused by corona virus pandemic the government declared contribution by companies towards fighting this deadly disease as a CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY(CSR)activity. As various steps are being taken by government to tackle the spread of novel corona virus in the country. one such step is of CSR, through this companies will be able to spend CSR funds through items listed under schedule VII related to promotion health care, preventive health care, sanitation, and disaster management etc.
WHAT IS CSR?
It stands for Corporate Social Responsibility, is a self-regulating business model that helps company to be socially accountable- to itself, its stakeholders and to public. By practicing corporate social responsibility also known as corporate citizenship, companies can be conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social and environmental.
It is a broad concept that can take many forms depending on the company and industry. Through CSR programs, philanthropy and volunteer efforts, business can benefit society while boosting their brands. As important as CSR is for the community, it is equally valuable for a company. CSR activities can help forge a stronger bond between employees and corporations, boost morale and help both employees and employers feel more connected with the world around them.
THE STEPS TAKEN BY THE GOVERNMENT
In India, over 1,74,496 people have been infected by the corona virus and at least 4983 people have died, while the government has announced nationwide lockdown to curb spreading the infection. Under company law, some part of profitable entities have to shell out a least 2% of their three-year annual net profit towards Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities in a particular financial year.
hence government hereby declared that spending of CSR fund for COVID-19 is eligible CSR activity, as conveyed by the corporate ministry.
The ministry is implementing companies Act. Accordingly, CSR fund can be utilized for various activities related to COVID-19 including preventive healthcare and sanitation, as per the circular. The CSR fund can be used for direct expenditure to contain the spread, morbidity and mortality due to the disease.
Under section 135 of the companies Act 2013, every company having net worth of least Rs 500 crore, turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or more or minimum
net profit of Rs 5 crore during the immediately preceding financial year has to make CSR expenditure.
The ministry of corporate Affairs (MCA) recently decided to expand the scope of corporate social Responsibility (CSR) to include funds to spent on COVID-19 related activities as CSR. The MCA has also expanded the scope of CSR with a view to spur the research and development and innovation ecosystem in the country. The schedule VII of the companies Act now recognizes any contribution in the field science, technology, engineering and medicine as falling within the ambit of CSR.
The social impact teams at Invest India created a repository of research funds, tech incubators and start-ups focused on COVID-19 intervention that can be supported by CSR funding.
After this act of government different companies and corporation have contributed through CSR
- Ambuja Cement and ACC, have collectively contributed Rs 3.3 crore to three NGOS to support daily-wagers, migrant labor, slum-dwellers and homeless stranded across the country during this lockdown.
- Coca-Cola India contributed an initial support of INR 100+ crores towards helping health care system and communities to combat the crisis and to contain the spread the pandemic.
- Vedanta contributed Rs. 201 crore to fight the corona virus pandemic. Earlier they contributed Rs 101 crores to prime Minister’s citizen Assistance and Relief in emergency situation.
- Ambani group contributed Rs 500 crore to Prime Minster CARES fund and beside also ensured to provide Rs 5 crore each to the government of Maharashtra and Gujarat to support their fight against this pandemic
Likewise, there are various other corporation who have contributed to Pm cares fund and took their responsibility towards society very well.
According to economic times report, companies could see frauds in their corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs as they may not have bandwidth to conduct due diligence or monitor these amidst COVID-19 pandemic, said EY forensic and integrity service’s reports. Many companies that are now looking to allocate their CSR funds towards COVID-19 related programs, but still do not have structure in place that could avoid frauds, the report titled social responsibility in India: re-engineering compliance and fraud mitigation strategies.
Lack of due diligence on implementation partners, weak governance and limited management involvement are contributing to ethical lapses and fraud in CSR programs. 65% of the respondents did not have a clear due diligence policy and 45% admitted to checking the past record of implementation partners, the report said.
The report states that 65% respondents did not have due diligence policy for CSR implementation partners. On the other hand, 75% respondents did not have a governance structure or policy to address ethical lapses or fraud in CSR programs. And about 20% respondents said investigating a CSR fraud was a key challenge, the report stated.
“CSR program can be powerful force for organization to create a positive impact on society, transform communities and deliver long term value to stakeholders. Any gaps, inadequacies or compliance lapses in the CSR efforts defeat its true purpose and significance, particularly during times of crises which can have far-reaching implications” Arpinder Singh, partner and head- India and emerging Markets, forensic and integrity services.
Companies are rushing to spend their CSR funds to help COVID-19 situation but there is a lack of transparency around the implementation partner’s background, as per the reports.
The CSR fund would be spent by companies for various activities related to COVID-19
- Eradicating extreme hunger and poverty.
- Disaster management which include relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities.
- Promotion of health care including preventive healthcare and sanitation.
Thus, “CSR” is a self- regulatory practice adopted by many companies that aim to contribute to social responsibility development goals. And at this point of time when the whole world is experiencing global pandemic. This contribution by the corporate sector would add on some help to tackle and overcome this global pandemic.