Com­pa­nies to be en­cour­aged to give small per­cent­age of their prof­its to good causes

In­cen­tives and write-offs on of­fer to sup­port char­i­ties through cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­grammes, as of­fi­cial says ‘It’s time to pay back some­thing’

The National - News - - EMIRATES NEWS - RAMOLA TAL­WAR BADAM

Com­pa­nies are to be of­fered gov­ern­ment guid­ance on how to kick-start cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity pro­grammes, build­ing the na­tion’s spirit of phi­lan­thropy and mark­ing the UAE Year of Giv­ing.

The per­cent­age of busi­ness prof­its to be ear­marked for char­ity will be an­nounced by the year’s end, but one se­nior gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial said it was time com­pa­nies tak­ing ad­van­tage of the UAE’s tax haven sta­tus “pay back some­thing”.

Do­na­tions will not be manda­tory, said Ah­mad Jul­far, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the Com­mu­nity De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity, which is among the gov­ern­ment or­gan­i­sa­tions that have made rec­om­men­da­tions to fed­eral au­thor­i­ties on the sub­ject.

“The CDA will have a role in im­ple­men­ta­tion in Dubai. In Abu Dhabi and other emi­rates, there will be other au­thor­i­ties that will es­tab­lish the cri­te­ria of the CSR ini­tia­tives, find op­por­tu­ni­ties and mea­sure the qual­ity of ac­tiv­i­ties,” he said.

“We have rec­om­mended to the min­istry that com­pa­nies should con­trib­ute to CSR be­cause the UAE is a tax haven. There are many ben­e­fits to busi­nesses here, so it’s time they pay back some­thing.”

Com­pa­nies will be of­fered in­cen­tives and write-offs for sup­port­ing plans iden­ti­fied by the Gov­ern­ment and the per­cent­age of the do­na­tion could de­pend on the size of the busi­ness, he said.

“It will be a ben­e­fit for com­pa­nies be­cause the more they do for so­ci­ety, they will be re­warded. It could be con­ces­sions or re­duc­tion of gov­ern­ment fees de­pend­ing on how much the com­pany has con­trib­uted,” Mr Jul­far said.

“This is be­ing stud­ied on how it will be ap­plied to pri­vate, public, fam­ily, big and small com­pa­nies,” he said.

A web­site show­ing projects and plans will be launched by the CDA by the end of the year to help com­pa­nies choose where to direct their do­na­tions.

“We are creat­ing a plat­form so peo­ple can go to a por­tal to see the CSR op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able in the so­cial ser­vices sec­tor and pick what they want to par­tic­i­pate in. They will also know what it will cost them. We will update the por­tal so com­pa­nies can see what has been achieved and re­port back to their board – there will be com­plete trans­parency,” he said.

The CDA hoped com­pa­nies would do­nate time and money.

“We want them to be ac­tive in this space. We ap­pre­ci­ate mone­tary con­tri­bu­tions, but we would like the whole busi­ness com­mu­nity to par­tic­i­pate. There are a good num­ber of peo­ple al­ready spend­ing a lot on CSR, but they have not been recog­nised yet.

“We don’t want it to be limited to just a few and we would like the busi­ness­peo­ple who give to be known for their ef­forts. We want to make the sys­tem re­ward­ing,” Mr Jul­far said.

The UAE has a long tra­di­tion of phi­lan­thropy, with or­gan­i­sa­tions called on to take part in sev­eral re­cent ini­tia­tives.

A food bank project was launched in April and takes ex­cess food from ho­tels, restau­rants and shops to labour­ers and low-in­come fam­i­lies. The aim of the bank is to re­duce food waste and pro­vide for the un­der­priv­i­leged.

The Min­istry of Econ­omy iden­ti­fied CSR as part of the Year of Giv­ing, aim­ing to in­stil a cul­ture across in­dus­tries to com­mit funds to phi­lan­thropy.

In June, the min­istry held its first an­nual cor­po­rate so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity event for Zayed Hu­man­i­tar­ian Day and re­vealed gov­ern­ment plans to build a data­base and mon­i­tor com­pli­ance with poli­cies that in­clude char­i­ta­ble work as part of a com­pany’s so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity.

Even as the Min­istry of Econ­omy is mod­i­fy­ing laws to in­tro­duce vol­un­tar­ily cor­po­rate giv­ing, in In­dia it is manda­tory for firms to give two per cent of their prof­its to char­ity.

Two years ago, In­dia be­came the first coun­try to re­quire large com­pa­nies to do­nate to char­i­ties. Busi­nesses with rev­enue of more than 10 bil­lion ru­pees must give 2 per cent of their profit to char­ity every year.

Mr Jul­far said: “So­cial clubs have been in Dubai from the 1950s and they have played a big role. The In­dia So­cial Club has thou­sands of mem­bers, has built two schools and is a good gath­er­ing point for the whole com­mu­nity. Other clubs have also helped their com­mu­nity, but here it is part of the cul­ture.”

Sil­via Raz­gova / The Na­tional

Vol­un­teers dis­trib­ute wa­ter to labour­ers liv­ing in the Satwa neigh­bour­hood of Dubai

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