Saturday, September 05, 2009

Be accountable to those around you

By Nophakhun Limsamarnphun

Dr Pipat Yodprudtikan is helping the government lead the |public and private sectors on the path of social responsibility

Dr Pipat Yodprudtikan, director of the Thaipat Institute, and his colleagues are helping the government formulate the country's first public policy on corporate social responsibility (CSR).

The institute recently submitted a four-point proposal to the Social Development and Human Security Ministry for consideration.

First, Pipat says, the country needs a comprehensive "mandate" on this crucial issue, which affects not only the private sector, but also the rights of communities, among other things.

"We could be one of the first countries in Southeast Asia to adopt this sort of public policy," he says.

In this context, the country already has Article 67 of the Constitution in place, which requires the private sector to take into account the rights of communities whenever they plan to set up large-scale industries in the vicinity of communities.

For example, investors will be required to get the consent of the community before they can go ahead with their projects because their schemes might end up affecting the quality of life of people in the area.

A public policy on CSR will cover more measures relevant to such compliance in greater detail.

In addition, there could be tax measures on air, water and other types of pollution as well as on the disposal of waste.

Secondly, the government needs to facilitate the private sector to do more work on social responsibility. For instance, there ought to be more state-sponsored public forums to be held on the CSR issue.

Thirdly, the country needs to form a social public/private sector partnership so that there are more resources and skills to carry out CSR and other related schemes.

For example, a partnership could be involved in projects to provide shelter to the homeless with the public sector providing land plots and the private sector seeking funds to build the shelter.

Another example is to invite the private sector to look after public parks and provide maintenance services as part of their social responsibility.

Fourthly, the government needs to support the endorsement of this corporate-cum-social movement by providing specific tax incentives on CSR projects and granting recognition in the form of annual prime minister's awards for outstanding work.

Apart from CSR, Pipat is also a champion of the sufficiency economic model based on His Majesty the King's philosophy.

"In my opinion, CSR is a key application of this sufficiency economy philosophy. Generally speaking, capitalism is about the accumulation of wealth.

"When it's applied, it also means maximisation of shareholders' wealth. However, one of CSR's objectives is different because it doesn't seek to maximise wealth, but rather to minimise conflicts among all the stakeholders [involved in the process of wealth creation].

"This means we need to take into consideration the interests of employees, communities etc.

"The new requirement for industries to seek consent from communities before expanding their industrial plants is a good example [as community welfare, rather than just profit maximisation, should also be a key factor in the process of wealth creation]," he said.

Earlier, residents of Rayong province on the eastern seaboard and other provinces fiercely fought against rapid industrialisation in their communities because of negative consequences on their health and lifestyles.

In this context, CSR can help minimise such conflicts, as it seeks to take the middle path as far as economic and social development is concerned....(From column Weekend Brunch) External Link [Archived]

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