Philanthropy can create socioeconomic opportunities: President

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Staff Report

ISLAMABAD

President Dr Arif Alvi Thursday while appreciating character of the Pakistani nation in charitable services, called for promotion of philanthropy both at the state and corporate level to address the challenges of poverty and social inequality.

Addressing the launching ceremony of a research study and corporate philanthropy awards held by the Pakistan Center for Philanthropy (PCP) and British Council here, he said the philanthropists played their role to bridge the gaps in the social development of the country .

The ceremony was attended by PCP Board of Directors Chairman Zafar A Khan, Executive Director Shazia Maqsood, British Council Country Director Amir Ramazan representatives of renowned corporate firms and people from various civil society organizations.

The president also distributed awards among the corporate firms who contributed the most in the philanthropic services, and appreciated their contribution to the society.

He said there had been a trust deficit between the people and the government that was why they did not pay taxes. Contrarily, they donated wholeheartedly to charitable organizations like Edhi Foundation and Shaukat Khanum Hospital.

Lauding the remarkable contribution of Pakistani diaspora in the United Kingdom in philanthropy, he said the Pakistanis were outstanding in giving.

He recalled the extraordinary contribution of the Pakistani society after the 2005 earthquake when people from across the country rushed to the quake-hit areas to help those in distress.

The president also shared his experiences in charity works and said the religion was a major factor to promote philanthropy in the Pakistani society and also narrated verses of the Holy Quran and numerous incidents from Islamic history underscoring the significance of giving.

He said as the discrepancy among the rich and poor had been increasing, the corporate sector should show their responsibility to the clients, environment and the coming generation.

He also urged the states not to create war and rivalry and talk about peace.

The president said the states should utilize their resources in such a way which could promote philanthropy in the country.

He said philanthropy should move beyond charity towards building human and social capital: it should invest in education, in enhancing social and economic opportunities for those who are less privileged, and in building organizations to address social ills.

He said it was inspiring to find out that the corporate social responsibility donations made by the corporate sector were worth Rs12.78 billion in the year 2018, showing an increase by 20% from the previous year 2017.

He further said the public sector in Pakistan had inadequate resources to provide basic social amenities to its ever-increasing population, philanthropy had become a potential resource to fill this gap.

In his address, PCP Board of Directors Chairman Zaffar A Khan said the philanthropists needed to be encouraged to focus more on the creation of social assets which could become instrumental in permanently reducing poverty rather than simply providing temporary relief to the poor and the needy.

British Council Pakistan Country Director Amir Ramzan said the philanthropic work done by Pakistani diaspora in the UK had led to several initiatives that resulted in providing support for research, education, social welfare, and cultural uplift.

He said Pakistanis were the second largest ethnic minority there, constituting 17% of all ethnic minorities with largest concentration in major cities.

This diverse and heterogenic group possesses the ability to make significant contributions to development in Pakistan which go beyond the remittances sent to family back home and can have significant positive and economic impact.

While sharing the findings of the study, PCP Executive Director Shazia Maqsood Amjad highlighted that the philanthropic giving of Pakistani diaspora for causes based in Pakistan and the UK amounts to £1.25 billion annually.

Monetary donation has highest share estimated at £ 738 million, which is primarily driven by the religious obligation to give Zakat. Total giving for Pakistan-based causes stood at £ 636 million (51 %), while £ 617 million (49%) were given for the UK-based causes.

The report also provides recommendations for more effectively leveraging donations from the UK diaspora. This includes measures such as development of an online portal of Pakistani organisations, capacity building and registration of charities in the UK, and improving regulatory mechanisms to facilitate transactions through banking and other channels to redress issues of trust and transparency in utilizing funds.

In the concluding session, the president distributed awards among the top givers from the corporate sector including Pakistan Petroleum Limited, Oil and Gas Development Company Limited, Fatima Fertilizer Company Limited, TPL Insurance Limited, Pakistan Services Limited, Crescent Steel ad Allied Products Limited, Askari Cement Limited, Yunus Textile Mills Limited, Liberty Mills Limited, Noman Abid Holdings Company Limited, Fast Cables Limited, Reliance Securities Limited, Barrett Hodgson Pakistan (Pvt) Limited, Hilton Pharma (Pvt) Limited, US Denim Mills Limited, Hotel One (Pvt) Limited and Al-Riaz Agencies (Pvt) Limited.