Use tax incentives to instigate more CSR – Dr. Heymann-Adu

Government can look at offering tax incentives to corporate organisation to incentivise them to undertake strategic Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) that will reflect government’s own CSR policy, Dr. Diana Heymann-Adu, an astute communications professional has advocated.

“Government can reduce a percentage of corporate tax to lure companies to commit more resources to CSR,” she said in an exclusive interview with the B&FT ahead of the 2019 edition of the Sustainability and Social Investment Awards.

CSR initiatives, she said, should not just be a focus on donations to orphanages, schools, and hospital wards but substantial projects that benefit entire communities, leave lasting legacies and generate social capital for the corporate organisation, and feed into the nation’s CSR policy and strategy.

Citing the example of Gold Fields Ghana that earlier this year officially opened the reconstructed 33-km Tarkwa-Damang road connecting Tarkwa and Damang in the Western Region of the country, Dr. Heymann-Adu explained that this road construction project by the company, which cost GH¢145million meets all the parameters of total CSR.

“With such huge project that cost this much, government can look at knocking down the company’s taxes by such a value and guess what will happen, it would seek to undertake more of such initiatives,” she added.

Dr. Heymann-Adu, who is the Chairperson of the 2019 edition of the Sustainability and Social Investment (SSI) Awards said the awards seek to create awareness and encourage companies in delivering high impact CSI/CSR projects that aligns with government’s focus on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).

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This year’s edition is themed: ‘Celebrating impact brands and their sustainable legacies’ and will be bigger and better as organisers unveil their Sustainability Plaque. It will also reward businesses that creatively approached CSR and those who are creating new standards, committing their organization to make social responsibility an integral part of their business.

Is gov’t CSR policy working?

Asked whether government’s CSR Policy, launched almost five years ago is working, she stated that the policy has not had any impact on corporate strategy because it is not compulsory or mandatory for companies to embark on CSR projects with the policy in mind.

“What I would want to see is government converting this policy into an act that will create a regulatory body to regulate CSR actions by companies. This way we can get corporate organisation to follow a strategy that looks good for the corporate organisation, brings relief to the people and the economy benefit in general.

“Without an act and regulation, it creates a vacuum and companies do what they like and commit what they feel is good to projects but when it is regulated, where for example, 20percent of your profit should be dedicated to CSR initiatives then we will be heading somewhere.

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“In the Tema Industrial Area, the companies operating there must be urged to contribute to a fund that will keep their roads in great shape. We know it is the duty of government and they pay taxes to government but they gain more from better roads. They should be able to contribute to make it better,” she added.

More on the awards

The award scheme is created to recognize businesses that creatively approached corporate social responsibility and reward those who are creating new standards, committing their organization to make social responsibility an integral part of their business.

While several companies have traditionally been undertaking CSI/CSR initiatives, the contributions of these companies in this direction are becoming more streamlined to corporate philanthropy, this is an attempt by the organizers to encourage companies and corporations to infuse corporate investments and innovations in the form of approach, usage of technology and expertise towards solving developmental challenges faced by the society, individuals and communities as a whole.

The awards are chosen based on varied subjects from women empowerment to education, skill development and livelihood empowerment, environment sustainability, health, water and sanitation etc. The standards it holds them to are stringent and are judged by a panel of high-profile CSR experts. Company size varies from major corporations to small and medium businesses, some just getting started.

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