The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) clarified on April 22 that spending of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds for “setting up makeshift hospitals and temporary COVID care facilities” is an eligible CSR activity.
"The companies may undertake the aforesaid activities in consultation with state governments subject to fulfillment of Companies (CSR) Rules, 2014 and the circulars related to CSR issues by this Ministry from time to time," the MCA order stated.
On January 22 this year, the MCA had issued an order clarifying that spending CSR funds on awareness campaigns and public outreach programmes to promote vaccination against COVID-19 would also be considered as an eligible CSR activity.
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The government’s decision to include these activities under CSR comes at a time when the country’s medical system is struggling to cope with the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
"Considering the current situation, this is good thinking by the government. However, it would have been preferable to make it wider covering all activites related to our fight against Covid for example supply of essentials to hospitals," said Darshan Upadhyay, Managing Partner at Stratage Law Partners.
Several states have even imposed restrictions to control the pandemic, which scaled a new record of 3.14 lakh fresh cases on April 22.
Earlier today, the central government said that it was reluctant to permit companies in India to classify their employee vaccination spends under corporate social responsibility or allow them to use the funds exclusively for employee inoculation.
However, the government said it may consider companies spends as corporate social responsibility if the larger community is included in their vaccination drive.
Mahindra Group Chairman Anand Mahindra also said that till the time corporates get COVID-19 vaccine supplies directly, they can support hospitals in setting up vaccination camps in open spaces to reduce the risk of infection at hospital venues.
The government has also turned to corporates to help out in increasing the production of oxygen needed for patients in the county.
Reliance Industries as part of its corporate social responsibility is supplying oxygen supplies to states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh and will provide relief to over 70,000 critically ill patients everyday.Disclaimer: MoneyControl is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.