CSR Just A Formality: Data Tells The Truth


MCA data shows in FY16, 5097 have reported their CSR spending for FY16 as of 31st December 2016. Interestingly, out of these reporting companies just 2691 companies made real contributions towards CSR during FY16. As far as spending is concerned, during FY16, 5097 companies spent Rs. 9822 crore on CSR.

Much more shocking is that in FY16 top 10 companies contributed towards 32.7% (Rs.3207 crore) of the total CSR spend and 2079 companies spent less that Rs 1 crore on CSR, while 2406 didn’t spend a single penny on CSR, clearly depicting that CSR spend still remained a formality for maximum companies, especially the private corporate. Most unfortunate part was that out of 5097 reporting companies, top 122 companies spent Rs 7746 crore (79% of the total spend), showing a great degree on skewedness towards top.

In the same way during FY15 also out of total prescribed expenditure of Rs. 11883 crores by these 3139 companies, just Rs. 8803 crores have actually been spent which is around 74%. Interestingly, CSR spent by the top 10 companies was whooping 32% of the total CSR spend in FY15 that comes out to be Rs 2783 crores while rest of the 3129 companies have spent Rs 6020 crores. Unlike the perception that companies usually manipulate data to find excuse for not spending on CSR activity, another interesting fact remained that 39 companies have spent on CSR despite incurring losses in previous years.

In addition to the above last year MCA initiated first ever effort to compile data regarding CSR for FY15 for top 500 companies, MCA was able to compile data for 460 prominent companies, as that much companies have filed information voluntary on their websites. This data indicates 51 Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) and 409 private sector companies together spent about 6,337.36 crore on CSR during FY15. MCA told parliament that these 460 companies have cited reasons for either less spending or not spending at all or not meeting the minimum criteria on CSR in 2014-15. The reasons included adoption of long-term CSR programmes/projects, and difficulty to find suitable implementing agency.

It seems that India’s experiment with corporate social spending has been part success and part failure. GDP interacted with senior officials of several companies about their assessment of the CSR investments. Most of them agreed that while spending at the company level has gone up, confusion over the legal provisions is holding many companies back from spending.

This article is part of Special Issue of GDP Magazine on CSR. Governance Democracy& Politics (GDP) Magazine’s Special Issue on #CSR Takes A Deep Dive on the state of CSR Spending. It has a regressive database of 5000+ companies on CSR Spending. 

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