The contribution of listed companies to corporate donations is approaching the globally accepted level of 1 percent of profit after taxes, said Securities & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) Chairman Akif Saeed at the launch and award ceremony of Corporate Philanthropy Survey Reports by Pakistan Center for Philanthropy (PCP).
The SECP chairman said that in Pakistan the understanding and practices around concepts of philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, and ESG practices are evolving and generally intertwined. Speaking on the role of SECP in this regard, he said that the preliminary landscape to inculcate awareness about corporate social responsibility (CSR) in Pakistan was developed by SECP through consensus-based CSR Guidelines in 2013.
These guidelines facilitated not only raising awareness among the corporate sector, but also encouraged collaboration through a public-private partnership, he added.
He said that these guidelines also paved the way for more formal legislative intervention through the Companies Act, 2017, by moving towards the Environmental, Social, and Governance or ESG agenda, by introducing more inclusive boards and better disclosure and transparency regime for listed companies to communicate to shareholders, the impact of company’s business on the environment, CSR activities undertaken during the year and a description of principal risks and uncertainties faced by the company.
He said that the corporate sector can enhance its contribution to the social and economic development of Pakistan through long-term strategies focusing on outcomes, with better employee engagement and better synergies. He said that these four factors are also mirrored in SECP’s objectives, “as we move away from our traditional role of a regulator, to strategically redefining the role of SECP to align with economic and social development needs of the country”.
$1.5 billion annual donations
Saeed said that while the annual donations to charities in Pakistan can be estimated to be nearly $1.5 billion, their utility and effective use cannot be gauged efficiently as most of this amount is not documented properly.
Likewise, effective implementation of donation programs is a challenge because of a lack of transparency and accountability, as well as due to a lack of coordination between different charitable organizations to ensure efficient utilization of resources, he said.
“However, corporate donations play a vital role in social uplift and it is heartening to note that the corporate sector has been doing its part in Pakistan,” Saeed added.
He also appreciated the role of PCP in improving transparency of the non-profit sector, by documenting the corporate sector’s contribution through philanthropy surveys on annual basis.