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
“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no longer applicable.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
"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.