India Inc loosens purse strings: CSR spending crosses Rs 50,000 cr mark in 4 years

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Updated: March 1, 2019 7:16:00 AM

Among the states, average CSR spend per company was the highest in the National Capital Territory, closely followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra.

Public sector undertakings (PSUs) accounted for just 4% of the total number of companies but contributed a quarter of the spend. (Representational photo)

Cumulative spending on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has crossed Rs 50,000 crore mark in just four years. The spending over the four years stands at Rs 34,100 crore for listed companies and Rs 18,900 crore for unlisted ones, totalling Rs 53,000 crore, rating agency Crisil said in a report.

“To offer some perspective, the cumulative spend is more than the fiscal 2018 Union Budget allocation for health and family welfare and two-thirds of the allocation for education — the two key CSR spending heads,” said Maya Vengurlekar, chief operating officer, Crisil Foundation.

In fiscal 2018, of the 4,832 companies listed on the BSE and the National Stock Exchange (NSE), 1,246 had spent close to Rs 10,000 crore on CSR, which was 12% higher year-on-year. As for the spending heads, while education & skill development and healthcare & sanitation remained on top, two areas grew at a fast clip — spending on national heritage protection has tripled and that on promotion of sports has more than doubled since fiscal 2015.

Public sector undertakings (PSUs) accounted for just 4% of the total number of companies but contributed a quarter of the spend.

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Energy companies opened the purse the widest, with 51 of them spending Rs 2,253 crore, or 23% of the overall spending, followed by manufacturing, financial services and information technology services.

Among the states, average CSR spend per company was the highest in the National Capital Territory, closely followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra.

The amount spent in the 2% or more bracket increased 35% to Rs 7,892 crore from Rs 5,856 crore in fiscal 2017. Under the Companies Act, 2013, a company is required to spend 2% of its average net profit of the preceding three years on CSR if it had in any of those years net worth of Rs 500 crore or more, turnover/ revenue of Rs 1,000 crore or more or net profit of Rs 5 crore or more.

“We see three clear imperatives here. First, the stipulation to limit all expenditure to 5% of the CSR amount needs a relook because it stops companies from enhancing their in-house CSR capacities. Second, there is a case for ensuring robust due diligence before appointing a non-government or voluntary organisation (NGO/VO) as partner. Thirdly, independent third-party evaluations such as NGO/VO grading should be considered to gauge a potential partner’s ability to drive the desired social impact,” said Nitesh Jain, director at Crisil Ratings.

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