At a time when there is severe criticism about the handling of their funds by NGOs and INGOs, the government’s new Development Cooperation Policy 2014 has come out with clauses to make them accountable and transparent.
Although some of the criteria laid down in the policy will likely to put
hurdles in project design and implementation, other clauses included in the Development Cooperation Policy will have positive implications in the functioning of civil society, NGOs and INGOs.
One of the major hurdles is likely affect the project design and implementation. According to the policy, civil society organizations, NGOs and INGOs will have to work closely with the concerned ministries for project approval.
The clauses of prior approval and coordination is likely to be time consuming and may limit the ability of NGOs, INGOs and civil society organizations to quickly execute the projects. This clause will prevent NGOs and INGOs work in the area of security by using foreign fund.
Although Social Welfare Council Act has clearly stipulated that NGOs and INGOs need to get registered with the SWC and they require pre-permission to mobilize the foreign fund, the policy has reiterated transparency in funding.
The INGOs, NGOs and Civil Society Organizations need approval from various levels of government offices in the name of coordination. As in the past, Project Analysis and Facilitation Committee under the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare has been given the role for inter-ministerial coordination. This body will have a final say on the projects proposed by NGOs and INGOs.
There are thirteen clauses directed at civil society and national and international non-governmental organizations. All the clauses are related to project funding, coordination, project implementation and transparency in utilization.
The policy has made it clear that the development projects proposed by NGOs and INGOs must follow the national priority of Nepal and help national development.
When NGOs and INGOs make a proposal for development projects through the mobilization of foreign aid, they have to develop the project in coordination with the concerned ministries. It has also stressed that the NGOs and INGOs implement the project as expert organizations.
The policy states that the INGOs and NGOs have to coordinate with the government offices in the areas of implementation. If the projects are at the central level, they will have to coordinate with the concerned specific ministries. So far as the projects are implemented at the local level, they will have to coordinate with DDC, Municipalities and Village Development Committees.
The policy forbids NGOs and INGOs to mobilize the embarked money by donors.
The policy says NGOs and INGOs have to report the funding amount and projects as well as projects detailed after acceptance of which they directly receive on their effort, to Aid Management Platform Management.
“Our aim is to make the NGOs and INGOs transparent and accountable in the use of funding,” said Madhu Marasini, joint secretary and head of the division.
Although civil society organizations and NGOs have yet to react, Association of International INGOs in Nepal (AIN) has expressed Commitment for Transparency and Accountability.
With the announcement of New Foreign Aid Policy 2014, Association of International NGOs in Nepal (AIN) has come to support the provision mentioned in the document.
Responding to the new Foreign Aid Policy, AIN stated that it supports government policies expressing its commitment for transparency and accountability in funding.
“It is a pleasure for AIN to declare that our entire 113 member INGOs have obtained the training on data entry, update and report (fact-sheet) generation into the Aid Management Platform (AMP) which has been regulated, directed and monitored by the Government of Nepal Ministry of Finance. With this, we have moved ahead towards publishing the source and usage of the foreign aid remitted through INGOs in Nepal,” AIN Chairperson Deepak Raj Sapkota said in a statement.
“We consider this is an added effort of INGOs towards being more transparent, accountable and committed for right to information of the public.”
Reiterating that the Member INGOs, as committed development partners of Nepal, have always strived for transparency and accountability towards the public, the government and donors; we trust that the data each INGOs enter into the AMP will further open the way forward to communicate officially on the utilization of the foreign aid by INGOs as well as eliminate dualism in data entry as we hope there will be data exchange system with Social Welfare Council.
Eight years ago then Royal Regime proposed a similar policy to bring expenditure and funding of Civil Society organizations, NGOs and INGOs within the purview of the Nepal government. It was foiled when there was a massive opposition from the civil society organizations.
After almost eight years since the fall of royal regime, the new elected government introduced a policy making it mandatory for NGOs and Civil Society organizations to report foreign funding and the expenditure annually at Aid International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division through Social Welfare Council.
As CPN-Maoist and Nepal’s security agencies are criticizing the role of civil society organizations in over sensitizing the issue of human rights violation, the inclusion of the Civil Society organizations in the policy document is significant.