ISLAMABAD: Sardar Masood Khan, President Azad Jammu and Kashmir, has said that Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is a priority for private sector corporations and 2% of their net profits should be allocated for social welfare projects, especially poverty alleviation, skill development, health, and hygiene, and setting up programs for providing safe and clean water.
The President made these remarks as the Chief Guest at the inaugural session of the 10th International Corporate Social Responsibility Summit organized by the National Forum for Environment and Health here in Islamabad. Azad Kashmir, he said, has numerous fledging small and medium-sized industries producing a wide variety of end products.
The event was attended by CEOs of leading public and private corporations, academicians, members of the civil society and media representatives. President AJK said that CSR activities should be a strategic response to the challenges faced by the people in a society and not an act of charity or philanthropy. He said that such activities are an essential part of overall economic growth and development in order to end poverty and ensure dignity and opportunity to the people of the country. He said private business of all sizes must incorporate measures to ensure employment opportunities in order to cap poverty.
The President while addressing the participants asserted the role of CSR as an inclusive aspect of corporate growth and a pertinent facet of sustainable social development. He added that without the sense of urgency and timeliness in mobilizing CSR activities, we will not be able to achieve our collective social development goals. President Masood Khan said that by integrating sustainable development into corporate strategies and prioritizing steps for environmental protection, corporations can help inculcate responsible attitudes among the public. He added that corporate enterprises must invest in innovation, promote practices for conservation of land, water, energy, minerals and ensure effective disposal of waste. This, he said, was our social, religious and environmental responsibility.
President Azad Kashmir said that the public sector must also take measures to incentivize participation of the private sector in socio-economic projects by facilitating their operations. He said this could be achieved by de-risking development and investment through a friendly regulatory environment, using education and training to build-in technology into the labour market and by providing a conducive environment for the promotion of public-private partnerships.
President Azad Kashmir said that the AJK Government has prioritized integrating skill development at the university level. He added that AJK Universities are incubation centers producing experts by imparting research-based courses according to the changing job market.
Sardar Masood Khan said that Pakistan and Azad Kashmir is at the cusp of an economic revolution. He said that AJK owing to its huge youth bulge, high literacy rate, growing purchasing power parity, skilled workforce, and availability of raw materials, makes it fertile for economic investment. He said that currently, Azad Kashmir’s local industries are producing textile, paper, pharmaceuticals, automobile tires, rubber, plastic, piping, shoes, furniture, construction material, edibles, and handicrafts.
The President invited investors from specialized industries to explore the potential of AJK’s growing market. He said that under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor, a state of the art Special Economic Zone will be established in Mirpur which will facilitate investors and budding entrepreneurs. The President also encouraged investors to explore opportunities in AJK’s growing tourism industry.