Published:  01:08 AM, 14 January 2018

Banks' Corporate Social Responsibility geared

Banks' Corporate Social Responsibility geared

This is universal truth that human being is one of the best creatures of Almighty Allah and also known as Ashraful Makhluka't in Islam. In the light of the first sentence of this article, the lenders run in the country should stand by the human being in well and woe when emergency emerges. The term Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) had been familiarized earlier by the country's financial institutions soon after getting the nod from Bangladesh Bank, the regulator of financial institutions for the sake of humankind.

This is a good message that in spite of being profit making organizations the private and public banks that have been doing brisk business in the country for long are largely taking part in various social activities as the holy duty of Corporate Social Responsibility donating millions of dollar in every financial year which deserve much appreciation from all walk of people.

The term Corporate Social Responsibility has been originated in the globe in the light of thinking for underprivileged people living in far-flung areas who have not yet built any capacity to keep pace with financially sound people. The World Bank defined CSR as the continuing commitment by business to contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the community and society at large.

Broadly, the commercial banks are in the queue for delivering charity based activities and in recent years, CSR activities with bulk amount forced by the Central Bank on games and sports, education sector, humanitarian and disaster relief, health, art and culture and other philanthropic activities have notably been increased so far.

A grave concern that a section of dominant people are on the underway to trap the CSR fund created by the depositors' hard earned money and a number of news stories of heinous practice taken place in state owned banks were earlier hit broadly in some dailies run in the country which triggered among the depositors as well as policymakers.

According to the latest statistics from Bangladesh Bank, the banks have made expenditure amounting to tk 3262.2 million (326.22 Crore) during January-June, 2017 period where the banks made contributions on CSR expending of tk 2815.9 million (281.59 Crore) in same corresponding period of last 2016.In 2009 tk 553.8 million, in 2008 tk 410.7 million and in 2007 tk 226.4 million were spent by the banks as part of CSR activities.

A large section of people living in the country who lead their life through hardship or cannot afford to manage a one day meal are never able to consult with good physicians due to lack of cash crunch or unavailability of the doctors beside them when needed though the government had issued notices in several times containing the doctors who will show negligence to their duties and if found absent at the respective duty places must be brought under disciplinary action, charitable dispensary financed voluntarily by the banks may be set up aiming to ensure better treatment of underprivileged people.

There is plenty of interesting sites to visit and places with uninterrupted natural beauty that lack foreign and domestic visitors for decades. The tourism sector can become another money spinning sector like ready-made garments. We can attract tourists from abroad to visit our lovely land as lots of Bangladeshis are being attracted towards various locations abroad. We have to develop a tourism infrastructure with adequate global facilities with the help of financial aid under CSR Program from banks and conglomerates to lure foreign nationals from which the GDP growth would be found acceleration position in coming days.

According to the ministry of education, Bangladesh education sector is also playing a significant role in bolstering GDP growth. In 2015-2016 fiscal year education sector put contribution on GDP bringing a 2.83 per cent share of total GDP which was 2.09 per cent in 2014-2015.As education is considered as the key driver for the development of a nation and all are known to all that education is the backbone of a nation, this sector must be put in place with a heavy emphasis contributing lions share from CSR budget every financial year.

A few months back, a report on income inequality of Bangladesh hit in the first page of every dailies mentioning major portion of assets are monopolized by wealthy people whose number is very few resulting in wider income inequality in the country. Such wider discrimination in the society may be made minimization through CSR practice though this small-scaled works are not good enough to relax this gap.

Being the citizens of Bangladesh, world's one of the largest deltas, our helping hand with enormous aid to the people who face natural disaster that hits every year mainly in coastal areas  should be brought under CSR coverage. Disaster management in the affected areas just after visit the natural catastrophe is needed. Because, a significant amount of foreign exchange is earned by exporting hilsha fish in different countries across the globe. So, both the state and the banks should have a role to save the coastal people during worst time.

It is widely known to all that Bangladesh came into being on December 16, 1971. Many fighters who fought against Pakistani occupation with a view to free the country had already been net under financial as well as housing facilities provided by the government earlier. The writer opines that the physically challenged freedom fighters that are still alive and unable to move to manage one day meal ought to be brought under CSR facilities recalling their valiant role during liberation war if central bank inspires the financial institutions.

Full-fledged digitalization of the country had been one of key agenda raised by the government soon after coming to power and this issue has been placed as daily buzz of common people. Though utmost effort from state level is noticeable, the corporate houses from their side can also contribute on digitalization process. Involvement of financing should be ensured in Web site developing centers, training institutes on Information Technology where unemployed people are given training.

According to a study of the Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS), the number of female employees fell by 13.10 per cent to 5.07 million in Bangladesh last year compared to 5.51 million in 2013. Taken together, overall employment of women in Bangladesh shrank to 28.5 per cent in 2016 from 32.8 per cent in 2013, which is a big threat for boom economy.

With the backdrop of such above disclosed figures the banks and other business organizations may show curious to set up some income generating plants for seasonal and disguised women unemployed, which would help to bring macroeconomic stability in the country.

Now a day, it is observed and frequent practice is that having personal, political relationship with concerned figures or forced by the people with muscle power to get financial assistance from CSR fund has been getting momentum denying actual demand-driven sectors, which is a great thread for the economy. So, pouring the close attention by the regulator is mandatory thinking for the welfare of deserving people who are really entitled to get this humanitarian support from financial institutions run the business in the country.  

To conclude, when CSR practice would be ensured in broader way coming out structured policy set by the central bank, the objectives of Corporate Social Responsibility would be materialized in the country. Close view on demand driven areas is a must as our country's 23.5 percent people of total population is still make both ends meet. So, their fate really depends on state level aid apart from banks and large conglomerates to meet their basic needs as well.

If such decade old humanitarian practice done by the financial institutions are carried on in right time towards right people, the country's dream to be a developed one as soon as possible must be achieved, no doubt.

The writer is Executive Officer of Social Islami Bank Ltd , Bangladesh.

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