Country’s banks have shown a combined expenditure of Tk 527.81 crore for 2015 in the name of corporate social responsibility programmes against Tk 510.55 crore disbursed for the same purpose a year back.
Experts and Bangladesh Bank officials are not totally convinced that the entire CSR fund went to the purposes of serving under-privileged section of the society as many of the banks disbursed the fund for influential sections.
They said banks were also under pressure to disburse CSR fund to organisations close to influential sections of the society including ruling party leaders to ‘please’ the government.
Besides, a number of banks also disbursed CSR fund to the law enforcement agencies, either by donating cars or constructing buildings, they said.
Although the central bank has a policy on the CSR, it did not monitor the banks’ activities in this regard and in some cases it overlooked the banks’ CSR activities because of the connection of influential people, they added.
The BB introduced the guidelines in 2014 after banks’ CSR fund surged to Tk 447.15 crore in 2013 from Tk 304.67 crore in 2012 and Tk 218.83 crore in 2011.
A BB official told New Age on Monday that the central bank had not conducted detailed inspections of the banks’ CSR fund disbursement process in recent period.
He said that the banks might violate the central bank’s rules and regulations in disbursing the CSR fund as they frequently distributed the fund on political consideration.
The central bank earlier unearthed that some state-owned and private commercial banks had committed financial crimes in disbursing their CSR fund, he said.
The government suspended the CSR programmes of four state-owned banks for some months in 2014, he said.
The BB earlier issued the CSR guidelines saying that the board of directors of the banks and non-bank financial institutions must scrupulously avoid any allocation in favour of any entity directly or indirectly connected with their directors, senior management members or with trustees of their CSR foundations.
The banks and NBFIs will have to use 30 per cent of total CSR expenditure in the education sector for the underprivileged population.
The expenditure should be for scholarships and stipends for students from low-income family in reputed academic and vocational training institutions.
The banks and NBFIs will have to allocate at least 20 per cent of their CSR fund for preventive and curative healthcare support assistance for underprivileged population segments.
The banks and NBFIs will have to allocate their CSR fund for hygiene initiatives like provision of safe drinking water, hygienic toilet facilities for poor households and for floating population in the urban areas.
The remainder of direct budgetary CSR expenditure allocations will be used in such other areas as emergency disaster relief, promoting adoption of environmentally sustainable output practices and lifestyle, promoting artistic, cultural, literary, sports and recreational facilities for the underprivileged people.
The BB data showed Dutch-Bangla Bank disbursed the highest amount of CSR fund — Tk 90.18 crore — in 2015. The bank had distributed Tk 181.36 crore in CSR fund in 2014. The CSR fund of Islami Bank Bangladesh increased to Tk 80.04 crore in 2015 from Tk 52.45 crore in 2014,
that of Al-Arafah Islami Bank to Tk 31.28 crore from Tk 1.78 crore, that of EXIM Bank to Tk 43.07 crore from Tk 32.46 crore and that of HSBC to Tk 21.5 crore from Tk 16 crore.
Former interim government adviser AB Mirza Azizul Islam told New Age on Monday that the central bank should monitor strictly the banks’ CSR fund disbursement to see whether the underprivileged people were getting the fund.
‘Some banks disbursed CSR fund on the political leaders’ recommendations, which is not a fair practice,’ he said.
The BB should verify whether the banks follow the CSR guidelines issued by the central bank, he said.
Former BB governor Salehuddin Ahmed said that the central bank should strengthen its monitoring process to check the misuse of the CSR fund disbursement.
The BB should conduct inspections of the banks’ CSR activities so that they follow the central bank guidelines properly.
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