Companies deny breaking pledges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 June, 2008, 12:00am

Some multinational companies hit back yesterday at a Ministry of Commerce report that suggested they had failed to honour pledges made to quake relief efforts in Sichuan .

The report, updated daily on the ministry's website, examined the commitments by 460 companies, including international giants, foreign-invested companies and firms in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan, comparing their initial pledge amounts with cash received.

Mainland media reported that at least 11 companies, including multinational giants such as Wal-Mart, Unilever, Google, Texas Instruments and China Steel of Taiwan, had given far less than they had pledged.

Zeng Xiwen, Unilever Greater China vice-president for corporate affairs, questioned the source of the information and denied that the company had not handed over any of the 10 million yuan (HK$11.34 million) it had pledged.

'We have contacted the Ministry of Commerce and discussed the report problem, because the sources used in the report were incorrect,' Mr Zeng said. 'The department told us they used data from the China Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment.

'Actually, we never went to the association or the ministry to report our donation figures. We wanted to keep the donation low-profile, instead of making it a promotion.'

He said the company had contributed at least 10 million yuan, including 6 million yuan in cash given to the Provincial Charity Federation of Sichuan, 1.5 million yuan in materials donated to quake-hit areas, and 3 million yuan more was being processed by banks.

Wal-Mart spokeswoman Mou Mingming said she hoped the ministry would contact companies directly to confirm the contributions. 'In fact, we made two initial corporate donations. We sent out at least 3 million yuan in materials to the quake areas soon after the disaster,' Ms Mou said.

'In all, our donations will be at least 20 million yuan. But the report has confused the public and created misunderstanding about Wal-Mart.'