Corporates spend more on education, differently-abled
The health sector is not the top priority of corporates when it comes to using Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds, according to Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) data. The Centre and States hope that corporates will spend more on health infrastructure to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. Education and skill development get the highest share of CSR funds, with healthcare in the second place. Going by the current trend in CSR spending, rich States like Maharashtra will get more support to enhance health infrastructure if companies divert such funds to the health sector.
The government recently allowed corporates to vaccinate their employees at company premises. Now, a section of the corporate sector is demanding that vaccination of employees be considered a social responsibility and, hence a part of CSR.
Against the backdrop of Covid-19 pandemic, the Karnataka government has set up a CSR team in an effort to upgrade the State’s health and medical education infrastructure and services. The Maharashtra government has appealed to corporates to come forward with funds for enhancing health infrastructure and other States are following in the footsteps hoping to get funds to tackle Covid-19.
But the CSR data for the last six years show that education, livelihood and differently able people are the top priorities of corporates. About ₹34, 350 crore, that is 38 per cent of the ₹89,354-crore total CSR fund, from 2014-15 to 2019-20, has been used for education, livelihood and differently-abled people.
Companies have spent 27 per cent (₹23,989.87 crore) on health, hunger, poverty and malnutrition, sanitation and safe drinking water. A senior Maharashtra government official working in the health sector said that majority of the funds under health-related activities are spent on sanitation and malnutrition. He added that health infrastructure is not a top priority for many companies, but this might change with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Interestingly, corporates have not given much CSR funds to Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund, Swachh Bharat Kosh and Clean Ganga Funds. These heads have received about 1-2 per cent of the total CSR funding in six years.
The data on the National CSR Data Portal of Ministry of Corporate Affairs show that rural development ranks third in the CSR priority list followed by environment, animal welfare and conservation of resources. Slum area development has not received even one per cent of the total CSR.
Maharashtra tops in funds
Of the total CSR funding in the last six years, Maharashtra has received ₹13,494 crore, that is 15 per cent of the total CSR funds.
The CSR funds Maharashtra has received in six years is equal to the combined CSR funds of Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh during this period.
Along with the North-Eastern States, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Bihar, Punjab, Jharkhand, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Goa have not received even one per cent of CSR.