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Business community needs to consider BSR

Syed Mahbubur Rashid | Published: May 02, 2019 20:53:49 | Updated: May 02, 2019 22:15:53


BSR stands for business social responsibility. For last few decades, we have been acquainted with the term CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). It is more or less universally accepted that corporations cannot confine themselves for looking after the interest of the shareholders only. A corporation has the responsibility to perform towards its general employees, the people living around and also the environment. In India, CSR has been codified in the company law with extensive instructions. A company is to spend certain percentage of net profit for conducting various social welfare activities including certain amount to be deposited in the public exchequer (of course, to be spent for social safety networks). In Bangladesh, the central bank, i.e., Bangladesh Bank has issued elaborate instructions for properly spending money for social safety networks and other social works. Bangladesh Bank's instructions are confined to banks and financial and other financial institutions. So far as other corporate sectors are concerned, the matter is voluntary. However, more and more companies are showing interest in CSR activities.

Now another term is coming to the fore. This is BSR or Business Social Responsibility. In CSR, a company is under compulsion to spend certain portion of profit for social welfare activities. CSR is applicable for the corporate sector only. But BSR has wider ramifications. BSR covers all sectors of business communities. It is not necessary that an organisation under BSR is to spend money from out of its profit. It is considered to be more of an ethical issue. In this connection, Mahatma Gandhi's famous adage may be recollected. He said commerce without ethics is a deadly sin. What is the BSR for a fruit-seller? He is not to spend a paisa under legal or only other compulsion for any social works. His business social responsibility is to sell fresh fruits free from any chemical or any other harmful matter. When any organisation or any individual carries out any business, sense of ethics should work. The recent FR inferno of Banani is an example of complete absence of social responsibilities and ethics. Of course, the FR inferno is not the first or last. Rana Plaza incident was undoubtedly the biggest industrial disaster in Bangladesh as far as loss of human life is concerned. Six years have gone, but the victims of Rana Plaza are yet to receive justice. Apparently BSR needs to be more on moral grounds than economic. It is very difficult for a sector to ask their members to follow ethics in business. Almost two decades ago Bangladesh Insurance Association (BIA) launched business codes to be followed by all the members but it was honoured more in breach than observance. For effective implementation of BSR good state governance is sine qua non. Behind good governance lies political good will. More than 90 per cent buildings of Dhaka city have flouted the building code. The state-run Rajuk seems to be wilfully neglecting the fact that the building code is being violated so rampantly. Of course now Ministry of Public Works and Urban Development are frequently assuring us of proper action. But this seems to be more rhetoric than an active step. Bangladesh Fire Service and Civil Defence should be also be blamed as it did not compel the building-owners to take adequate fire fighting measures and keep such equipment in their buildings.

On the other hand, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA) has the responsibility of ensuring that no unfit vehicles ply. But BRTA has gloriously failed to ensure this.

There are many other government departments who are not effectively carrying out their responsibilities.

Recently, incidents of gas cylinder explosions are rising. This means that BSTI has failed to ensure the quality of most of the gas cylinders being used by people.

The more the government machineries work properly, the people will become more conscious about BSR. It should be remembered that CSR does not work without law or legal instructions. BSR will also not be effective unless the business community and government machineries work hand-in-hand. This movement of BSR needs to gain momentum, if a good business environment is desired for the country. 

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