Dubai: The Ministry of Economy on Monday said implementation of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) will be on a voluntary basis for all companies in the private sector. It will not be obligatory for corporations. However, any such voluntary contributions made by a company should be included in the CSR Mandatory Disclosure. Moreover, even this Mandatory disclosure is limited to large corporations, which will be identified in a clear legislative regulation list, clarified Ministry of Economy.
The CSR programme is one of six main themes of the UAE’s National Strategy, which aims to encourage all companies to play a role in charitable and humanitarian work.
Mohammad Ahmad Bin Abdul Aziz Al Shehhi, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Economy, discussed the National Strategy’s 11 initiatives for CSR, which were set to develop a supportive and stimulating environment for companies to invest in social responsibility.
He said the ministry will announce a minimum percentage which should be annually allocated to CSR by all private companies.
Companies will be able to register starting July, and will be required to declare their audited CSR accounts to the ministry and upon licence renewal at the Department of Economic Development.
“Auditors will be required to ensure the financial statement for the company verifies their CSR initiatives and CSR spending,” he said.
Al Shehhi said that another initiative is the establishment of a National CSR Index, which will rank entities in the country, based on the percentage of their contributions and projects.
The assessment process will take place in April 2018, while the Corporate Social Responsibility Annual Report and National CSR index results will be announced on Zayed Humanitarian Day in June 2018.
Year of Giving
Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansouri, Minister of Economy, said the launch of the annual report represents an important milestone for the ‘Year of Giving,’ as such programmes and initiatives introduce a solid base for the organisational system of charity works in the UAE.
“Cooperation between the Ministry of Economy, Departments of Economic Development and Chambers of Commerce and Industry and other governmental and private bodies is an essential and effective driving force for transforming the ‘Year of Giving’ concepts to practical programmes and initiatives,” he said.
Smart SCR platform
Meanwhile, Al Shehhi highlighted the different services of the Smart CSR platform, which will be launched in July. The smart platform will enable all private companies to register, as well as view the various fields of CSR initiatives according to the society’s needs. It will also include guides and tools needed to make CSR contributions along with models displaying the implementation process.
“One of the main targets of the programme is to spread awareness about the values of CSR within the private sector. We are sure many private companies have CSR programmes, however, it is time to launch a joint platform based on concrete projects, and build partnerships between the public and private sector,” said Al Shehhi.
He pointed out the ministry anticipates that all companies in the UAE who are currently registered in the economic department will become members of the CSR programme, which has now been set as a minimum requirement in the private sector. Also among the 11 initiatives for CSR are incentives, facilities, and financial privileges.
Among the financial privileges is the ‘Responsible Procurement’ initiative, which will be implemented in cooperation with the financial departments of the various emirates. It aims to allocate a percentage of government contracts to outstanding companies in the field of CSR.
The ministry will also launch the ‘CSR Label’ and ‘CSR Passport,’ which will be awarded to the five most innovative companies in the field.
Another initiative is the establishment of the ‘coordinating forum for CSR.’ The forum will be organised in cooperation with the UAE Chambers of Commerce and Industry, to provide platforms for regular communication in order to build partnerships between private sector companies and leaders of the humanitarian and charitable sectors.
“The country’s leadership has a vision to establish the position for the UAE to be the most giving of the world,” added Al Shehhi.
Companies react to Ministry of Economy announcement on mandatory CSR in the private sector:
Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, Chairman of the Al Habtoor Group:
“Either compulsory or not compulsory, it is everyone’s duty in the world to contribute [to charity]. It is everyone’s responsibility to do whatever they can to make the world a better place. A few years ago, I put all my money in a charity, the Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor Foundation, and since then we’ve spent over half a billion dirhams helping people — supporting many initiatives around the world and in the UAE, including humanitarian initiatives in places like Syria and Palestine, and supporting medical research and sports. People should think how they can help, but they shouldn’t be forced to do so. Compulsion is not right. I disagree with it. This is not the culture of my country. If people like to help, let them help. Let people feel like donating to charities. Don’t force them. If you look at the world — especially the US — they spend billions of dollars every year to conduct research to help humanity. In the UK too, they invest heavily in research to cure blood pressure-related diseases. Why we are not doing things like this?
Rizwan Sajan, Founder and Chairman of Danube Group
“I firmly believe that it is the job of every company in the UAE to contribute to the betterment of society. We at Danube Group welcome the new mandate passed by the government to set aside a CSR fund. Over the years, we have been conducting a number of activities under our CSR wing called Danube Welfare Centre by educating workers from all walks of life. We intend on continuing and expanding our work by educating over 15,000 workers this year."
11 initiatives within the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) programme:
1. The Smart CSR website to be launched
2. CSR annual report to be published
3. National CSR index to rank companies based on CSR spending
4. CSR Label
5. CSR Passport
6. Monetary incentives for outstanding companies in the CSR field
7. Mandatory annual declaration of CSR projects
8. Coordinating forum for CSR
9. Annual announcement for CSR
10. Responsible procurement
11. Work committees for CSR