The coronavirus pandemic is likely to exhaust most of the funds kept aside for corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities by companies this fiscal year. India Inc. has already allocated over 80% of the annual CSR budget to address the pandemic, which could impact spending on other areas this year, according to Crisil Foundation.
So far, the spending has been in the form of contribution to the PM CARES Fund, other relief funds, distribution of food, masks, personal protective equipment for healthcare workers, or relief material to the needy, said Crisil Foundation, a public charitable trust of Crisil Ltd.
“Corporate altruism in India has found a new purpose since the advent of the covid-19 pandemic. With the nationwide lockdown hard-braking economic activity on the one hand and disrupting lives, especially of the poor, on the other, companies have not only opened purse-strings, but also rolled up sleeves to respond proactively to the pandemic."
Crisil drew up a list of top 100 companies by revenue and the CSR spend of each company in fiscal 2019, and checked whether they were alive to the need to alleviate the widespread distress caused by the pandemic. Of the total 200 companies, 70 appeared in both lists, while 60 figured in only one. Of the 130, 113 spent on pandemic-related mitigation, according to publicly available data until 15 May.
In less than two months through 15 March, 84 of these companies (including support through the corporate group) spent ₹7,537 crore on causes that can be classified as CSR spend. The remaining 29 either contributed to other funds ( ₹373 crore), and/or facilitated voluntary employee donations ( ₹84 crore) that cannot be classified as CSR spend, or donated solely in kind (food and masks), for which assigning a monetary count was difficult.
Of the 84 companies, as many as 56 (or 67%) were private sector companies, accounting for over two-thirds of the total amount spent on pandemic-related support. The 24 public sector units (29%) contributed 30%, while seven private (foreign) sector companies brought in the rest. Region-wise, 36 companies in Maharashtra, which accounts for a third of all covid-19 cases in the country, stand out as they accounted for 63% of the total spending.
Maya Vengurlekar, chief operating officer, Crisil Foundation, said: “Interestingly, the 130 companies analysed by Crisil accounted for nearly 80% of the total CSR spend by all listed companies in fiscal 2019. Assuming other companies would have followed a similar path, India Inc has already allocated over 80% of the annual CSR budget to address the pandemic. This could impact spending on other areas this fiscal."