West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi urging him to consider the contribution of business houses to the chief minister’s relief funds (CMRF) as money spent on corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities.
The letter, a copy of which is with PTI, pointed out “one major infirmity in the present CSR framework as provided in the Companies Act 2013”, concerning the interest of the states. While contributions to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was mentioned as an eligible activity under the CSR in the 2013 Act, the same made to the CMRF was not considered as an activity “eligible for contribution under the CSR”, she wrote in the letter.
“It will indeed be praiseworthy if contribution to CMRF in the states is also made an eligible activity under CSR. The little contribution would be very helpful to all the states to extend the much-desired assistance and relief to people in need,” the letter read. Stating that the CMRF is always under financial constraints because of limited donations from the companies, Banerjee has written that if the proposal is accepted by the Centre, the “contributions” will also enable the donors to claim tax breaks.
“You may be aware that West Bengal, like other states of the country, has an established CMRF, similar to the PMNRF. We have been using the fund to provide medical, education and other kinds of relief to the most needy and distressed people in their times of grave financial crisis. However, due to paucity of funds, “we are not being able to fulfill all the requests made for support,” her letter read. The current regime of the CSR in the country was introduced with the notification of Section 135 of the Companies Act 2013 and the CSR Policy Rules, 2014.
It mandates that from April 1, 2014 every company, private limited or public limited, which either has a net worth of Rs 500 crore or a turnover of Rs 1,000 crore or net profit of Rs 5 crore, has to spend at least 2 percent of its average net profit for the immediately preceding three financial years on corporate social responsibility activities.