Corporate institutions urged to align CSR to government development agenda

Corporate institutions have been urged to align their corporate social responsibility (CSR) plans and projects to the developmental agenda of government to help harmonize, streamline and fast-track projects in the country to the benefit of all Ghanaians.

According to Member of Parliament for Dormaa East, Paul Apraku Twum Barimah, the era of government embarking on one project agenda whiles Corporate Ghana undertakes different development agenda culminates in waste of funds and resources, and sometimes end in undertaking development projects at wrong places.

“What is happening now is that government seems to be doing something and corporate institutions will also be doing something else in terms of provision of developmental projects. The harmonization is needed to accelerate development. They [corporate institutions] deduct it from their annual earnings when presenting their financial statements to government and thus take it out from taxes paid to government. So there is a need to put it to good use to the benefit of the people”, he said.

He further said organizations should be partners of nation building, adding, the CSR activities of organizations must toe the line of some of the development needs of government and add up to the socioeconomic progress in health, education, sports, and environmental issues.

“If such projects are aligned and developed coherently they could relieve government of some burdens of having to fix everything everywhere in the country with the proceeds from the meagre resources. It may lead to some of the projects that directly impact the lives of the people and promote their livelihood to be fixed with the support of corporate Ghana through their CSR funds.

 “When you look at some of the changes and burdens posed by the emergence of covid-19, such collaborations are needed to enhance, promote and fast-track infrastructural and human development. And there will be no need for agitations to fix the country”, he stressed.

“Corporate bodies in Ghana profess to be pursuing CSR based on their own way of seeing it. The confusion that often arises stems, perhaps in part, from the misunderstanding with regard to what CSR is all about. When companies in Ghana make donations to the needy, hospitals and even ineffectual state institutions, they call it CSR”, he added.

Past studies including one conducted by World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) entitled ‘Corporate Social Responsibility – making good business sense’ found out that CSR did not seem high on the business agenda in Ghana.

One of the reasons adduced by these studies was that CSR is thought to be too expensive. Lack of government control and involvement is also cited as a reason for CSR having a lower priority.

The studies also found out that there is little pressure on companies to encourage them to take the CSR initiative.

Recent studies have also concluded that CSR is far from being given its recognition and that a lot more ought to be done by firms to make CSR a strategic concern.

In the absence of a clear CSR policy, individuals, advocacy groups and public agencies seeking to hold corporations responsible for their social responsibilities usually encounter difficulties in doing so. Probably because of the absence of a readily available source document on CSR for reference, particularly in the absence of any statutory or contractual obligation imposed on such corporations.