Effective January 22nd, 2021 (Amendments), the Government of India amended the Companies (Corporate Social Responsibility Policy) Rules, 2014 and Section 135 of the Companies Act, 2013. Companies must now undertake third party impact assessments (IA) of their CSR projects and furnish the impact reports as a part of their annual reports. Though the macro-level admissibility for mandatory IAs have been defined, there continues to be some ambiguity around eligibility of projects for the relevant financial year, large projects at different stages of their lifecycle to be assessed, approach for assessing impact for recently completed COVID-19 relief projects and many more.

AMCHAM’s CSR Committee, in association with Sattva Consulting, hosted a webinar on June 21st to address some of these frequently asked questions. Ms. Ranjana Khanna, Director General CEO, AMCHAM welcomed participants and Mr. Harish Krishnan, Chairman – CSR Committee, AMCHAM and Managing Director, Public Affairs & Strategic Engagement, India & SAARC, Cisco Systems India, in his opening remarks mentioned the importance of vaccination and advocating for COVID appropriate behaviors. He acknowledged the work U.S. companies have been engaged in during the pandemic and touched upon the administrative procedures that the amendments have brought about regarding monitoring and implementation of projects.

The panel of experts included Mr. Jay Badola, Partner, Dua Associates, Mr. Nikhil Pant, Former Member of Ministry of Corporate Affairs (who played a key role in the formulation and nation-wide rollout of the CSR Law 2013) and Mr. Bobbymon George, Lead – Impact Measurement and Advisory, Sattva. The session was effortlessly moderated by Mr. Srikrishna Sridhar Murthy, CEO and Co-Founder, Sattva. With compliance and impact now linked, the discussion focused mainly on impact assessment and the panel addressed ambiguities around what can be included in the administrative budget cap, the applicability of the amendments, excessive and future CSR spend, the concept of ongoing projects, donations, annual action plans, definition of employee, postponement of projects due to COIVD, expansion of a company’s CSR Committee roles and capital assets, among others. The webinar had 70 participants and included a live Q&A portion. The session concluded with a vote of thanks from AMCHAM to the speakers for sharing their valuable expertise.

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