An overview of CSR policies in Mauritius, Singapore, Netherlands and India

By Saptarshi Basu Roy Choudhury on March 2, 2019

The previous article focused on the importance of environment in the corporate social responsibility (CSR) mandate of India. It highlighted that after the introduction of the Companies Act, 2013, there has been a growing awareness among the Indian companies towards sustainable practices. The strategies framed for the businesses in India now focus on their economic, social and ethical impact for fulfilling long term development goals. In the last few years, India witnessed a significant increase in average expenditure on CSR activities (Rai & Bansal, 2014). An increasing number of Indian companies nowadays report CSR information in their sustainability reports (Ghosh, 2016). These findings indicate a movement in a positive direction.

CSR policies of Mauritius

The CSR policies in Mauritius make it essential for profit-making companies to contribute 2% of their profits to CSR activities (Bissoon, 2018). These activities can be carried out through an approved NGO, a special purpose vehicle or through any corporate partner. The new CSR framework announced under the budget 2016-17 requires the set up of National CSR foundation (Government of Mauritius, 2016). The foundation would undertake programmes for the social welfare of the vulnerable groups. Likewise, it would allocate the CSR funds to the organizations. Furthermore, several studies established the link between engaging in CSR activities and competitive advantage for organizations in the country (Deloitte, 2008). This shows that CSR in Mauritius is treated in a serious manner. The environment is one of the key areas on which CSR activities are focussed on. Furthermore, other than socio-economic development, health, education and training.

CSR policies of Singapore

The government in Singapore has framed limits in terms of command and control framework in a subjective manner. Furthermore, the government is of the view that CSR can only be implemented by the development of norms and values. In this regard, the code of corporate governance in the country encourages domestic companies to follow high standards of governance (Thomas, 2009). Also, CSR in Singapore is promoted as a complementary rather than a substitute approach to doing business (Tan, 2011). The emerging trend of sustainability reporting by Singapore companies and CSR in the mainstream prove that environment is of utmost importance in the context of sustainable business practices.

CSR policies of the Netherlands

The Netherlands operates on two sets of CSR policies. The national policy frames a pathway for businesses in which the law lays down certain obligations. Likewise, international CSR policy functions for those businesses that operate in nations where enforcement of laws is inefficient. The NGO and trade unions also operate with the government to solve global problems.

The Dutch government plays a significant role in informing the CSR policies to the businesses. Furthermore, it makes other governments aware of their responsibilities. Also, companies with more than 250 employees and with the net turn over of more than EUR 35 million are required to submit CSR reports (Graafland, Eijffinger, Stoffele, Smid, & Coldeweijer, 2003). The Ministry of Economic Affairs ranks 500 Dutch companies in terms of transparency of their business practices and implementation of CSR policies.

CSR in India vis-à-vis its counterparts

In comparison to India, none of the other three countries has made implementation of CSR policies mandatory. In Mauritius, CSR guidelines were eliminated in 2015 and companies were set free to use their fund allocated for CSR following their own framework (Government of Mauritius, 2016). Also, Singapore has not set any obligations for the implementation and monitoring of CSR. Furthermore, the Netherlands has developed a new set of International policies that govern the operations of companies in other nations as well.

In terms of CSR practices, many companies in Mauritius have adopted innovative initiatives for environmental sustainability and education. In the airline industry, Air Mauritius in collaboration with Mauritian Wildlife Foundation has framed ‘One take off One Tree’ initiative. Through this, initiative MWF plants a tree for each takeoff. Furthermore, in the hospitality sector, Alteo is working to assist community projects in education. In addition to this, the company also devotes funds for needy children (Alteo, 2018).

Furthermore, companies in Singapore have been working in every sphere to fulfill their social responsibility. Hoven Lovells is working in collaboration with other companies to help social enterprises in terms of growth. Moreover, companies such as Comfort Delgro have introduced wheelchair-friendly buses and provide free emergency taxi service for disabled students (SMFG, 2016).

In the Netherlands, few companies have adopted CSR initiatives as the central role is played by the NGOs. Amongst these few corporates, Royal Friesland Campina has adopted major initiatives on the path of sustainable development. Above all the aim of the company is to improve energy efficiency by two percent. In addition to this, the company focuses on sustainable production chain and reducing the number of greenhouse emissions. Further, it also focuses on animal health and animal welfare (Lindgreen & Swaen, 2010).

India needs more voluntary actions

In terms of rules and regulations, India has made CSR mandatory and is the first country in the world to do so. On the other hand, Singapore has not framed any obligations for monitoring and implementation of CSR. However, companies in Singapore have voluntarily adopted innovative practices to fulfill their social responsibilities. The same applies to Mauritius and the Netherlands. The significance with which CSR is treated in these countries proves that making CSR mandatory is neither necessary nor sufficient. Therefore, it calls for recognition of the importance of CSR and implementation of CSR practices by the domestic companies. Just regulations cannot be the main drivers of CSR initiatives. Companies should develop a deep understanding of voluntarily contributing to social welfare.