The Companies Act-2013 is a unique attempt to allow the private sector to complement government efforts for achieving the MDGs, said Shashi Tharoor, India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development.

The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Policy in the Companies Act 2013 can enable the corporate sector to accelerate action towards achieving the MDGs on hunger, health and sustainability. This was the key message emerging from the UN Corporate MDG Conclave held in New Delhi today.

Speaking at the event, Dr. Shashi Tharoor, India’s Minister of State for Human Resource Development said, “The MDGs reflect the collective aspiration of humanity. The Companies Act 2013 is a unique attempt to allow the private sector to complement government efforts in the last mile to achieving the MDGs.”

With fewer than 900 days left to achieve the MDGs, leading private sector enterprises gathered in the city to discuss ways to leverage the CSR policy in the Companies Act 2013 to align business action towards the MDGs. The Companies Act 2013 mandates that private sector enterprises spend at least two percent of their average net profits generated over the last three years.

Harpal Singh, Mentor and Chairman Emeritus of Fortis Healthcare said, “Responsibility to society should be integral to the way we do business.” Going forward, Singh emphasized the importance of “A global call for zero tolerance for hunger, indignity and unacceptable levels of income”.

Reiterating the importance of private sector involvement, Ms. Lise Grande, Resident Coordinator, United Nations and UNDP Resident Representative said, “Analyses from around the world conclusively demonstrates that progress on the MDGs can be accelerated when business and the private sector join in coalition with other development actors. When business joins the race, the end is reached much more quickly and often more efficiently.”

At the Conclave, private sector companies shared examples of how businesses have developed CSR practices and innovative business models to address pressing development challenges. Dr. S Y Quraishi, Former Chief Election Commissioner of India and Honorary Chairman, CELL also encouraged corporate India to come forward and actively participate in the country’s social and development issues through the MDGs, not only as a means to realize their CSR agenda but also to achieve a greater sense of fulfillment.

Early estimates suggest that mandating companies to spend at least two percent of profits on activities linked to corporate social responsibility could generate investment of between US$ 2-2.5 billion for activities that aim to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; promote education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality and improve maternal health; combat diseases like HIV, and malaria; ensure environmental sustainability; and create employment and strengthen vocational skills.

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