INTERVIEW WITH SAEED AHMAD SIDDIQUI, AN ECONOMIST

KHALIL AHMED
(feedback@pgeconomist.com)
Oct 10 - 16, 20
11

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOURSELF.

MR. SIDDIQUI: I am 75 years old. I passed M.A. (Economics) in 1967 and M.A. (Education) in 1969 from University of Karachi. I joined a college as lecturer in economics in 1960 and was retired as professor of economics in 1997. I taught Economics in a college, a University and in professional institutions such as ICMAP. I have written 40 books on economics and related subjects as well as various articles published in different monthlies.

PAGE: YOUR VIEWS ABOUT CSR ACTIVITIES DURING RECENT RAINS AND FLOODS.

MR. SIDDIQUI: Leading and large companies showed serious and close concerns with flood affected areas and helping the people of these areas during the tested period of 2011. Federation of Pakistan chambers of commerce and industry (FPCCI) has arranged to distribute 30,000 ration packets containing ration for seven members for one month in each packet costing overall Rs140 million. In addition to this, the federation has also provided Rs100 million in cash for rehabilitation activities in affected areas.

Overseas investors chamber of commerce and industries has collected Rs200 million (double than amount provided during the flood of 2010) for relief activities and this amount, with the passage of time, is increasing. Karachi chamber of commerce and industry provided Rs20 million for relief funds. The president of Hilal-e-Ahmar Society, Sardar Yasin Malik distributed 55,000 ration bags amongst flood victims and also installed water purification plants in flood affected areas. Pak Libya Holding Company supported flood relief activities by Rs10 million. Pakistan Business Council provided Rs150 million and distributed one million food packets.

Despite untiring efforts of corporate business units, the people of flood affected areas are not satisfied. There is no required and effective coordination between PDMA (provincial disaster management authority) and NDMA (national disaster management authority).

PAGE: WHAT ARE YOUR COMMENTS ON THE CONCEPT OF CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY IN PAKISTAN?

MR. SIDDIQUI: CSR is given different titles: corporate conscience, corporate citizenship, social performance, or sustainable responsible business. It is a kind of corporate self regulation embodied in business model. It is built in self regulation mechanism. The objective of corporate social responsibility is to embrace the actions of company and to set its positive impact on environment, consumers, employees and the society through its activities.

The term 'corporate social responsibility' was used first time in the late sixties and beginning of seventies after emergence of various multinational corporations. The background of corporate social activity is the idea that a company should not confine its matters merely to the extent of profit earning and provision of goods and services to its customers.

It must also play its positive and supportive role for the cause of social prosperity and welfare. CSR means to establish respectable and congenial relations with customers, employees, and suppliers. It is also about caring environment and ecological diversity. It is a bitter fact that the corporate social responsibility is occupied by the people who, keeping the welfare activities of the company aside, make the company the money earning machine and neglect the social welfare aspect of the company. Consequently, corporations face aggressive questions raised by social welfare organizations. These welfare societies come into being in the form of NGOs, which are dedicated, unshaken and radical in achieving their objectives.

NGOs have sufficient power to thrust their aims and objectives on business organizations and to pressurize them to use their funds in the fulfillment of their social responsibility. These social welfare organizations (NGOs) are successful in implementing maximum social responsibilities on the business companies through the use of their radical political agenda.

These NGOs give dictation to the business companies to feel their responsibility towards environmental protection and social equality. A basic objective of a business is earning profits not the help of society in which they exist. Nevertheless, some companies keep both the objectives in view which is admirable. Such companies, through spending their financial resources on social welfare activities, serve not only the social cause but also elevate their image in the society.

As far as corporate social responsibility in Pakistan is concerned, ours is an underdeveloped economy which, like other developing economies, is faced with various socioeconomic problems. Majority of people in Pakistan is leading life below poverty line due to which medical and educational facilities are absent. Agricultural and industrial backwardness is restraining economic growth. Both skilled and unskilled labors are facing unemployment. Constant and recurrent natural calamities are causing damages to human lives and material resources. The irreparable losses of men and material, as a result of heavy rains, are obvious.

The welfare role of companies, in this perspective, becomes crucially important. It is, therefore, imperative that companies should come forward to drag the nation out of the problems net.

PAGE: TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY IN THE WORLD.

MR. SIDDIQUI: The global economy provides an opportunity to look into how is commerce conducted in emerging markets. Social responsibility begins from the moment when it is monitored whether the economic growth and development is taken place as consequence of successful business decisions or whether business profits are playing constructive role in changing the fate of the economy. The concept of CSR, in the modern times, is not confined to the borders of the countries but it has become a global concept. India is the best and glaring example of rapidly growing market which has become a threat to other growing economies of the world like United States of America. This position has been gained by India through the concept of CSR. It is realized by national and international corporations that the governments can't stop the economy moving towards downfall. The leading corporations of the world have realized that economic issues have provided effective tools to be competitive in the market. The businesses have not become global. As a result of opening the new horizons of modern and sophisticated means of transport and communication, the productive and service providing corporations have come out of their local boundaries and encouraged to expand their business to the international border. The privatized European and Japanese industrial concerns invited the American firms for tough competition. In the beginning of nineties, there were 35,000 parent multinational corporations having 1,70,000 affiliates while these numbers rose to 60,000 and 500,000 at the close of nineties.

PAGE: DO YOU THINK CSR ACTIVITIES HAVE POSITIVE IMPACTS ON ENVIRONMENT, CONSUMERS, AND COMMUNITY?

MR. SIDDIQUI: Certainly, the activities undertaken under CSR create positive and pleasant impact on environment. It becomes the social responsibility of a business corporation to render the guarantee of pollution free environment.