The corporate social responsibility (CSR) expenditure of banks and non-bank financial institutions (NBFIs) in the health sector has increased more than threefold in the first half of 2023, compared to the spending in the second half of last year.
According to a Bangladesh Bank report on CSR spending released yesterday, the banking sector spent Tk216 crore on the health sector from January to June, up by 238% or Tk152 crore, from Tk64 crore during the last six months of 2022.
Bankers observe that the overall CSR expenditure has increased due to an increase in medical expenses by banks to control dengue infestation.
From January to June, the banks have increased the medical support of helpless, underprivileged and disabled patients in the health sector at the individual level. Besides, the CSR expenditure in the health sector has increased due to the distribution of free treatment and health care materials to prevent the spread of dengue, they said.
Spending on education and environment and climate change mitigation has also doubled during the same period, compared to the second half of 2022.
The Bangladesh Bank report on CSR spending shows that from January to June, the banks have spent a total of Tk571 crore on overall CSR, up by 11.30% from Tk513 crore during July to December last year.
The report shows that from January to June this year, 15.79% of the total CSR expenditure was distributed in the education sector, 37.93% in the health sector, 8.73% in the environment and climate change adaptation sector and 37.56% in other sectors.
On the condition of anonymity, the managing director of a private bank, told The Business Standard: "The reason for the highest expenditure increase in the health sector in the six months of this year is that dengue prevalence was high during the period. Besides, many banks have been able to spend CSR in all their sectors as their net profit was high,"
He added that some banks have started education foundations on their own initiative. Also, they have bought new vehicles for educational institutions, and that is why the expenditure on education has also increased.
Of the banks, Dutch Bangla Bank spent the highest, Tk61 crore, with Tk23 crore spending in the education sector and Tk29 crore spending in the health sector.
Islami Bank Bangladesh became the second highest spender with Tk25 crore spending on the health sector and Tk11 crore spending on disaster management, followed by Al Arafah Islami Bank spending Tk42 crore.
Al Arafah Islami Bank spent Tk24 crore on the health sector and Tk10 crore on disaster management.
On the other hand, CSR spending by the four state-owned banks stands at Tk4 crore. They could not spend much in the sector due to negative net profit.
As per the central bank report, 35 non-financial institutions spent Tk3.49 crore from January to June, down by Tk50 lakh compared to the spending during the last half of 2022.
The non-financial institutions spent 44% of their total expenditure in the education sector and 35% in health sector. Of them, the spending of LankaBangla Finance and IDLC Finance was more than Tk1 crore each in CSR.