At a time when the elected local bodies are absent to carry out the development activities in far and remote parts of Nepal, INGOs have been supporting the local NGOs and communities to fill the gap. However, the recent activities of the government have shown that the INGOs will have to face many hurdles in the coming days.
Registered with the Social Welfare Council as per the Social Welfare Council Act, INGOs have been implementing programs and projects with the approval from the council and from the Project Facilitation Committee of the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare. However, the recent decision of the government has shown that the policymakers are either ill-informed or intentionally motivated to harass the INGOs.
According to the Social Welfare Council, there are more than 240 INGOs working all over Nepal in areas like gender, human rights, child rights, health, education, disaster, natural conservation, income generation and poverty alleviation. The council annually monitors the activities and development programs launched by the INGOs.
With the formation of this government, the Ministry has already issued several guidelines and asked the INGOs to focus their activities on development and construction activities only by discouraging the rights based advocacy approach in the rights and inclusion sectors.
"We don't need advocacy programs any more in the areas like inclusion and rights as Nepal is capable to do so. What we want now is projects that will directly benefit the people," said Badri Prasad Neupane, Minister for Women, Children and Social Welfare. "We also want transparency on the part of INGOs functioning."
As part of the international civil society movement, INGOs follow transparency and accountability at international standards by publishing their annual reports in their web-sites. INGOs also submit their annual balance sheet and progress report to the Social Welfare Council.
However, the recently published 23 pages and 211 points, Governance and Economic Reform Immediate Action Plan 2069 places certain conditions on the INGOs to follow while working in Nepal. Even the Internal Revenue Department's records show that the INGOs annually contribute over 330 million rupees to Nepal's tax network.
The Governance and Economic Reform Immediate Action Plan Also include the areas like Economic reform and progress, corruption control and transparency, Transport Management, Service Delivary, Supply of Essential Commodities, energy sector, forest and environment protection, Education and health sector management, improvement in project management, improvement in human resource management, reform in corporation, agriculture development, social reform, conducting workshop, program and other reform. The action plan also has time frame for implementations.
The guidelines in the Governance and Economic Reform Action Plan 2069 were released on October 17. Under the clause 13, Corruption and Transparency, the immediate action plan says all INGOs working in Nepal shall publicize their annual budget, completed work, expenditure and human resources in an integrated manner. According to the action plan, the Ministry of Finance, in cooperation with the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, will take the necessary steps for this.
Clause 14 of the Action Plan has also directed the Ministry of Finance to make necessary arrangements to channel all the foreign aid available through INGOs under one window policy.
"After reading the Action Plan, one can easily draw the conclusion that policy makers are ill-informed about the role and practice followed by INGOs," said INGOs country representatives.
The government's displeasure with the INGOs is understandable. The government holds the view that the INGOs have been supporting the organizations which raise the issues of human rights violation and inclusion. Even during the period of the royal government, several efforts were made to contain activities of the INGOs by putting a lot of terms and conditions. The INGOs working in Nepal bring just over 10 billion rupees, which is very nominal compared to what the bilateral and multi-lateral agencies spend in Nepal.