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Sunday, 31 March 2013





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CSR should meet national needs - Chandula Abeywickrema

Private sector companies spend over Rs. 1.5 billion a year on Corporate Social Responsibility projects (CSR) which do not help boost economic growth in the country, said Deputy General Hatton National Bank (HNB) Chandula Abeywickrema. He said that corporates should identify CSR priorities from a national level and help empower youth through human resource development which is vital to achieve higher economic growth.“Many companies spend large sums of money on fancy projects such as renovating a hospital, sanitation, wildlife conservation or donating funds to institutions.


Investing on pet projects will not have a positive impact on the economy,” Abeywickrema said. Certain corporates carry out CSR projects to win accolades and gain recognition for best annual report presentation at award ceremonies.“Social issues of emerging young people who are marginalised due to lack of employment opportunities could lead to social unrest.

The private sector has a major role to play in empowering youth through professional training and harnessing young talent for the development of the country,” Abeywickrema said.

He said that past youth uprisings in the country were due to marginalisation of rural youth. Non employment of youth would lead to frustration and then mass uprising.

Corporates should focus on developing the triple bottom line namely profits, people and planet which is spoken widely but not adequately implemented.

“There is scope for professional masons, carpenters, electricians and plumbers the world over. Corporates should train youth in developing their skills in crafts that are in demand,” Abeywickrema said.

He said that Corporate Social Responsibility is here to stay. But do business establishments understand the importance of using profits for long term sustainability through CSR.

"Many corporates are trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle while some are jamming any piece into a convenient location. This any-fit approach will not have benefits in the long-term," he said.

Sustainability and innovation are CSR buzzwords that have mainstreamed into business management. "The attitude of get in, grab what you can and get out once seen as an aggressive business practice is no longer applicable. While still CSR is traditional corporate philanthropy to many organisations certain others have gone beyond to identify national requirements and contribute to development of the economy.

"Companies in the garment industry have transformed CSR into business risk management mainly targeted at reputation-risk management. The local garment industry is recognised for ethical manufacture of garments adhering to international labour standards and environmental sustainability," he said.


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