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Firms asked to look beyond bottom line

Business Development Dept wants companies to also be socially responsible

In the wake of good governance and fair labour practices among businesses, the Business Development Department will stringently monitor start-ups as well as existing firms so that they will do business on the basis of not only profit but also corporate social responsibility.

The department will look for business based on legal principles, particularly labour and accounting laws, morality, responsibility to the public sector, transparency, promptness in cooperating in society and careful concern for natural resources and the environment.

Director-general Pongpun Gearaviriyapun said yesterday that her department would launch a campaign to promote good business based on six principles so that employers, employees and consumers will not face problems in the long run.

The department will also strictly inspect newly registered companies to prevent some unscrupulous ones from conducting business unfairly.

For instance, it will probe the background of a company's owners to see whether any have been sued in civil court, faced bankruptcy or been accused in foreign-nominee cases.

If the owners' history is found to be unclear, the department will dig deep into their background and may not allow them to set up a new firm, so as to prevent future problems.

Although the department has no direct responsibility to check on good labour practices, it can collaborate with other government agencies in launching campaigns to persuade employers to institute and practices that are good for their employees. If any company is found unfairly treating its employees, the Labour Ministry could punish it under existing laws.

After the full implementation of the Asean Economic Community next year, it will be essential for Thai companies to do business under the law, as well as observe good governance practices, Pongpun noted.

Today, consumers have a variety of choices for making their purchasing decisions. Consumers are not only concerned about product or service quality, but also good governance, transparency, and environmental and natural-resource awareness, she said.

If Thai businesses operate with high corporate responsibility, rather than only focusing on products or services, they can be successful, she said.


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