By Arab News
By Qaisar Hamed Metawea
In the private sector of most developed countries, large corporations play an essential role in contributing in many ways to society.
Warren Buffet and Bill Gates, for example, have lead the way in the US by setting up trusts worth billions of dollars to assist the economy’s development through dynamic charitable projects, despite the fact that these corporations pay high taxes to their government. They are aware of their moral obligation toward their society and thus they are deemed as cornerstones and leaders in community service.
In Saudi Arabia, there are many large companies, particularly banks, which generate billions every year, but when it comes to contributing to Saudi society they are almost unseen on the contribution map. Unfortunately, banks contribute little to society compared to their huge profit margins.
However, even when they occasionally donate to an organization or sponsor an event, it seems they do that as part of their marketing plan and not as part of a community services plan, since media coverage of such events is usually extensive.
Saudi Arabia has one of the most favorable economies for banks to operate as the government has paved the road and removed complex regulatory infrastructure for them, which has enhanced the rapid growth of their business.
Also, the government does not impose any income or corporate tax on banks. Most people open interest-free accounts, thus banks do not pay any interest to them, which only increases profits further. Therefore, it is unacceptable when these banks announce their annual profits, yet we find them contributing next to nothing to society.
Having said that, banks should take the lead and set up projects that benefit Saudi citizens. They should contribute and donate more to charity organizations, educational institutes and offer scholarships.
Moreover, as the vast majority of the people of Saudi Arabia are young, banks should focus on them. For example, by starting programs that provide free professional training to the youth to help them initiate their own small enterprises and provide them with interest-free loans as startup capital for their businesses since they are the future of our country.
We know that banks are not charitable organizations, but they should play an active role in helping build a stronger society and stronger economy rather than playing a role that is focused only on maximizing their profits.
– Dr. Qaisar Hamed Metawea, Attorney at Law – Partner, Mikwar, Akkad & Metawea Law Firm, Email: [email protected]