Planning Ministry for common CSR guidelines, Dhaka Tribune, January 24, 2016

The government is set to formulate a common guideline to regulate how profitable companies spend money on Corporate Social Responsibility.

The Planning Ministry believes that profitable firms can contribute heavily in achieving the United Nation (UN)’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by spending in the country’s health, education, environment, security and children welfare sectors.

The guideline would focus on encouraging CSR processes at the company level and emphasise on how CSR should be integrated into business practices.

Investopedia defines Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) as a firm’s initiatives to assess and take responsibility for the its effects on environmental and social wellbeing. The term generally applies to efforts that go beyond what may be required by regulators or environmental protection groups.

According to sources, the ministry has recently sent a draft of the CSR guidelines to the ministries of finance, commerce, social welfare and the national board of revenue and sought their opinions within 10 days.

The draft – titled “Developing the National CSR Guideline for Bangladesh” – was prepared by the CSR Center Bangladesh and was signed by Planning Minister AHM Mustafa Kamal. The minutes of a meeting of stakeholders, held two years ago, was also attached with the draft.

The Planning Ministry also requested the other ministries to nominate their representatives to the proposed CSR guideline development committee.

During that meeting, participants, including minister Kamal and CSR Center Chairman Farooq Sobhan, discussed how big corporate firms in developed countries contribute through the CSR.

According to the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms (RJSC), thee were a total of 47,434 registered firms in the country at the end of the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The draft guideline says a common CSR policy can contribute in creating positive branding for Bangladesh and corporate firms can enhance global standards as well as expand the global market of exportable items.

“By developing a national CSR guideline for Bangladesh, stakeholders can address and resolve the issues of negative impacts and risks through engaging with a step by step approach to ways that intimate good governance, climate change and environment, human rights and labour standards, etc,” the draft reads.