Interview with Sachin Pilot - 'Will ask Finance Minister for tax break on CSR'

Sachin Pilot

Looking visibly relaxed after the Lok Sabha in December cleared the Companies Bill that has been 11 years in the making, corporate affairs minister Sachin Pilot shared his views with the Indian Express on some of the controversial provisions of the Bill and how he intends to push the envelope on clean corporate governance in board rooms and less intrusive presence of the ministry in their work. Excerpts:

The reaction from the companies to the provision for a mandatory CSR provision has been to put it mildly, mixed. How do you plan to take the concerns on board?

We intend to make this provision soak in gradually. I am in no hurry. In the 7th schedule of the Bill we have put 10 suggestions which the companies can, depending on their philosophy, work on what they want to do. We have not mandated what they should do. It is a self-reporting exercise, there will be no inspector raj. There are lot of central government schemes for instance with which they can dovetail their CSR work. For instance, an executive of an HR company asked me if his executives teach tribal kids how to speak English, would that qualify as CSR. I told them it probably would because he is spending time which in terms of wage hour is a cost to the company. Essentially we will see how the law evolves over the years. If it it has to be tweaked we will do it. We will travel with the companies to make the provisions even more quantified, structured and aligned with changes. Corporates are doing CSR anyway. So I think too many restrictions at the beginning could create hurdles for those activities. Companies have also raised the issue of lack of resources for executing CSR but say if some one is manufacturing tiles, he can give some for laying in school toilets. That too qualifies under the provision.

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