The government has moved to frame a combined rule for corporate social responsibility (CSR), with the issue of militancy incorporated in it, in an apparent attempt to intensify its fights against terrorism and extremism.
The Banking Division of the Finance Ministry has already sent a proposal to the central bank to frame the comprehensive policy on the use of CSR money spent by private and multinational companies doing business in Bangladesh.
The new rule would also propose that all statutory bodies such as the Election Commission, the Public Service Commission, and the offices of the comptroller, the auditor general and the attorney general spend a portion of money for anti-militancy programmes.
“We have already sent the proposal to the Bangladesh Bank for a combined rule on CSR for inclusion of militancy in it,” Dr Aslam Alam, the secretary of the Finance Ministry’s Banking and Financial Institutions Division, told the Dhaka Tribune.
He said the proposed rule would ask the corporate bodies to spend a certain portion of money for anti-militancy drives of the government. However, the authorities are yet to fix the percentage.
On September 22, the division issued a circular asking banks to be careful about the use of their CSR fund. The Finance Ministry’s move came as the Home Ministry raised concerns about the alleged use of CSR money of the Islami Bank to give legal support to the persons arrested on charges of terrorism.
The CSR is a way for the corporate companies to spend money from their profit for supporting the people and the state with people-oriented projects. The companies get some privileges against the CSR initiatives.
At present, there is no combined CSR rule in the country, but only some guidelines scattered in different circulars issued by the central bank, said the secretary.
The Banking Division took the initiative for a combined CSR rule as the Home Ministry at a meeting on April 9 recommended incorporating militancy in the CSR rule.
The meeting, with State Minister for Home Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal in the chair, decided that banks and different corporate bodies would assist to make anti-militancy films, commercial and books. The print and electronic media would also need to encourage the campaign against militancy.
All statutory bodies must also spend money against militancy, said the minutes of the meeting that the Dhaka Tribune has obtained.
The government move has created mixed reactions among businessmen.
Munir-Uz-Zaman Chowdhury, the managing director of the IT company Computer Network Systems, welcomed the proposed combined CSR rule.
“The corporate sector should assist the government to curb militancy; I do not see any problem in joining the fight against militancy and extremism that distorts the peaceful religion of Islam,” he told the Dhaka Tribune.
Mamunur Rashid, vice-chairman of BD Venture Limited, told the Dhaka Tribune that the current CSR practice was basically “charity” in nature, but the objective of the CSR must not be so. Rather, he said it was intended for building capacity of the people who would ultimately contribute to the society and the state.
“Frankly speaking, incorporating militancy in the CSR rule may not be effective. What we should do is the funds should go to the right group of people for right initiatives. If the governance of the CSR funds is ensured, its misuse will automatically stop,” he said.