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Maharashtra may set up body to channelise private funds

Proposed corporate social responsibility authority to help set aside funds for priority sectors including drought mitigation
Hindustan Times | By Ketaki Ghoge, Mumbai
UPDATED ON JUL 20, 2015 11:16 PM IST

Taking a cue from Gujarat, Maharashtra’s finance department is mulling over setting up of a corporate social responsibility (CSR) authority. The proposed body will help channelise funds from private and public sector companies into sectors prioritised by the government.

A team of officials from finance department is expected to tour Gujarat next month to study the Gujarat Corporate Social Responsibility (GCSR) authority, which was set up earlier this year. The neighbouring state set up the body under its industries department for optimum utilisation of CSR funds and to channelise them into priority sectors.

Under the Companies Act, 2013, the Centre mandated that companies must put back at least 2% of its net profit over the preceding three years for the good of the society.

With state finances on a shaky ground and development budget likely to face a cut even this year, finance minister Sudhir Mungantiwar is looking at all possible alternate assistance streams. The government has already made a start by wooing CSR funds for its flagship, Jalyukt Shivar Abhiyan, which aims at making the state drought free by 2019.

The government is keen on dedicating a portion of the CSR funds for uplifting rural economy through adoption of certain villages, water conservation schemes and drought mitigation.

A senior official from the finance department said the proposal in still in its preliminary stage.

“Many companies have failed to spend the 2% funds as mandated by the Companies Act, while others have tried to put in funds back into smaller organisations and trusts owned by them. These funds can be used optimally if the government advises companies on the areas they can spend money and how to go about it. They can also park funds with the authority that can go into creating a dedicated fund for social infrastructure,” the official said.

Challenges faced by the state
* Drought looming large
* Fourth consecutive year of bad monsoon in certain regions
* Thousands of crores already committed in populist schemes announced during the polls

About the Gujarat body
The GCSRA has nearly 13,000 companies registered with it, which seeks assistance on sending its corporate social responsibility funds in the state. The government has identified 40-50 backward talukas of the state where some of this money is channelised besides activities to improve its human development index.

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