ISLAMABAD : Corporate sector needs to transform itself into socially responsible business entities for pro-poor growth and overall welfare of society, said Jahangir Khan Tareen, eminent politician and entrepreneur while chairing a consultation and report launch organized by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) on the state of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in Pakistan- an illustrative example of sugar production here on Tuesday.
He launched two SDPI reports Corporate Conscience: CSR in Pakistan A study and Corporate Social Responsibility: Studying the Sugar Production Process in Pakistan at the occasion. Shaista Sohail, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Industries and Production, Shaista Bano, Director, Competition Commission of Pakistan, Shafqat Munir, Coordinator Asia Rights in Crisis, Oxfam , Iskander Khan, Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Sugar Mills Association (PSMA), Muhammad Imran, Director, Corporate Social Responsibility Centre Pakistan, Dr Abid Suleri, Executive Director, SDPI, Qasim Ali Shah, Director Program Development, SDPI and Anam A Khan, Research Associate, SDPI also spoke on the occasion.
Speaking on the occasion, Jahangir Khan Tareen, expressed that thinking socially and ensuring the well being of the stakeholders has the potential for a successful and profitable business.
He shared the business model of his sugar mill where he integrated the business strategy with welfare of sugarcane farmers through micro credit and agricultural technical support.
This, he said, resulted in unprecedented increase in production and profitability. He also mentioned some of his social welfare interventions such as providing microcredit and technical agricultural support to farmers, providing funds to farmers for deep well turbine pumps, building schools and access roads establishing eye camps in rural communities and provision of artificial limbs for disable people.
Dr. Abid Suleri said that philanthropy, benevolence and corporate social responsibility must not be treated as same and be looked upon more consciously. He said, mere rhetoric and advertisement campaigns by business companies in Pakistan cannot be classified into CSR and there is need to have a structured approach while exploring the linkages between people, profit and prosperity.
Shaista Sohail informed participant on some of the measures taken by Ministry of Industries to facilitate industries and introduce corporate social responsibility in Pakistan. She shared the details of latest initiatives such as every small effort counts , implementation of zero waste concept, setting up of hygienic latrines at airports and cleanup and face-lift of Karachi port and city in collaboration with private sector.
Shafqat Munir discussed trilateral approach of CSR involving government, corporate sector and civil society for effective implementation of corporate social responsibility concept. He proposed CSR certification and standardization for corporate enterprises to further promote the concept.
Qasim Shah briefed participants on newly created South Asian Network on Sustainability and Responsibility (SANSAR) and said that the network will actively promote concept of CSR to address social, environmental and business related issues across different sectors in the region.
Shaista Bano was of the view that compliance of rules, regulation and abidance of law is pre-requisite for companies beside performing social welfare intervention.
Imran Khan apprised participants on the concepts of philanthropy and corporate social responsibility. He said CSR is the effort undertaken for wellbeing of humankind by solving social problems. He said CSR is different from philanthropy as it involves organized efforts, affects people at broader level and adheres high ethical standards while enhancing profits.
Iskander Khan urged Competition Commission of Pakistan to play its role to end exploitation of farmers and consumers by sugar mills. He lamented over the fact that sugar industry is still regulated through sugar management act 1950 and called upon the authorities to come up with policy intervention to address gross irregularities in sugar sector in Pakistan.
Anam Anwar Khan shared the details of report on sugar industry and said that the sugar industry is the second largest industry of Pakistan, employing 1.5 million people. She said, the study of the sector reveals that some sugar mills are building the capacity of their farmers, providing them with training and advice, facilitating in efficacy of crops and providing them with easy, clean and safe paths to sale their stock.
However, there are some other mills which are crushing sugar farming community through exploitative practices, she added. She said, these exploitative actions include low and fixed rates for the crop, illegal deductions, restriction to the market and unjust buying terms and conditions. She quoted report s recommendation that policies should be designed and enacted to ensure that social responsibility is not just a charitable act but is legally supported and secured by the government.