ASEAN CSR Network: Mr Thomas Thomas, Mr Jerry Bernas and myself
Last week representatives of ASEAN CSR Network (ACN) had the kindness to receive me at their office in Singapore.
Operation of ACN
ACN was established 2011 with support from ASEAN Foundation and Japan-ASEAN Solidarity Fund (JASF). ACN says on its web site that ”Promoting Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)’ is identified as an integral strategy in ensuring sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development in ASEAN”, based on blueprint signed by the heads of all ASEAN member states.
The mission of ACN is ”To promote and enable responsible business conduct in ASEAN to achieve sustainable, equitable and inclusive social, environmental and economic development”.
Represented member states
So far business organisations from seven of the ten member states in ASEAN are represented in ACN, namely founding organisations from Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Thailand and participating organisations from Myanmar and Viet Nam.
A short-term priority is to achieve representation from all the member states, where today Cambodia, Laos and Brunei Darussalam are missing.
Our meeting originated from a recommendation to me by the Swedish Development Cooperation (SIDA) after a meeting we had at the Swedish Embassy in Bangkok, see my post Meeting SIDA from December 3, 2015.
Mr Jerry Bernas, Programme Director at the ACN secretariat, hosted the meeting which took place on February 2 in their Singapore office after a month of planning. He generously told me about their experiences of working at regional and national level. He is himself a Philippine national, although located at the Singapore office, and could as such combine the regional work with national contacts when needed.
Later Mr Thomas Thomas, Chief Executive Officer of the ACN secretariat and a Singapore national, joined us. He was found to have impressive detail knowledge about the accounting world, although he’s presently not working in the area.
Mr Jerry Bernas and Mr Thomas Thomas gave me plenty of information about their work and also gave me an opportunity to present myself and my expertise.
The need for harmonized accounting for SME
I presented my view of the need of harmonized accounting regulations for small and medium sized enterprises (SME) within ASEAN, in the wake of launching the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) 2015. I believe this area is often neglected and rests in the shadow of implementing regulations for large and listed enterprises. However, the SME represents a huge number of entrepreneurs and enterprises so very much is to be gained by supporting them with suitable and simplified regulations.
There are several connections to CSR, such as increased possibilities of digital accounting and increased development of digital communication between entrepreneurs and authorities. Digitalisation in theses areas can reduce paper use, which is of environmental interest and supports sustainability. Digital contacts with the authorities can also reduce bureaucracy and prevent unforeseen effects of personal variations in official decisions .
There is also a CSR angle in an easier understood linkage between accounting and taxation for SME, enabling them to pay their share without too heavy administrative and bureaucratic burdens. This also increases the possibility of foreseen official decisions without personal variations.
We discussed possible touchpoints between us before Mr Thomas Thomas had to leave.
Mr Jerry Bernas concluded the meeting by whishes of keeping in touch. I thank you both for your willingness to spend this time with me!
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