NGO funds outweigh grants to government

- PRITHVI MAN SHRESTHA, Kathmandu

Aug 28, 2018-

As non-government organisations and international NGOs face increasing scrutiny over transparency of funding, statistics reveal that the country received more funds through such institutions than foreign grants received by the government last fiscal year.

According to the Social Welfare Council (SWC), the I/NGO regulatory body, the country received a total of Rs39 billion through such organisations in the fiscal year 2017-18, against the total grant of Rs36.16 billion received by the Nepal government in the same period.

The total foreign aid received by the government including loans stands at Rs111 billion, according to the Finance Ministry. SWC data show Rs18.51 billion was received by INGOs and Rs20 billion by NGOs.

In the previous years, the country received even more funds through INGOs--Rs42.92billion in the fiscal year 2015-16, when the country was recovering from the deadly Gorkha Earthquake.

As many as 247 INGOs have been registered with the council while 46,235 NGOs were affiliated with it as of 2017, according to the SWC.

Despite large amounts of money coming through I/NGOs, the funds are not channelled through the government’s budgetary system. So how the amount is spent does not come to public notice generally, according to government officials.

But I/NGO officials say they submit audited reports to the SWC every year for transparency of their expenditures as required by the law. But the SWC does not have collective data on how the I/NGOs are spending their cash.

SWC officials said they are unable to confirm how many I/NGOs submitted their audit reports and whether they spent in productive areas, citing the lack of software to process the data. “We are working to install the software,” said Hari Tiwari, acting director of the SWC.

At the request of the Finance Ministry, many INGOs have been reporting about their grants and the activities they are engaged in. Finance Ministry officials said they don’t have the mechanism to tally whether all the INGOs submitted the details.

The government has acknowledged the role of I/NGOs in national development, delivery of services in rural areas, enhancement of quality of life and human capital development.

However, the Finance Ministry in its publication released on December 2017 titled “A study on Foreign Aid Mobilisation in Federal Nepal” questioned the INGOs’ output and operations as “debatable”.

“Despite having thousands of NGOs and significant amounts in foreign aid, Nepal remains one of the poorest countries in South Asia,” it states.

However, Shibesh Chandra Regmi, chairman of the Association of International NGOs (AIN), defended the I/NGOs saying that their role remained crucial particularly to improving the country’s human development index.

“There has been substantial progress in areas of education, health, women empowerment, capacity building, and livelihoods in the country with contributions from the NGOs and INGOs,” said Regmi, questioning the effectiveness of the government’s own spending as large amounts of development budget remain unspent every year.

International and domestic non-government organisations have also come under the scanner for their conduct. According to SWC’s Tiwari, some institutions have become mediums to preach Christianity.

The Finance Ministry report says that most INGOs have the tendency to bypass local governments, which Regmi denies.

The government is trying to rein in the NGO and INGO sectors with the proposed National Integrity Policy. A clause of the NIP requires INGOs to seek approval from the local authorities before reporting to their headquarters abroad.

Due to strong protests from the organisations, the government has failed to implement the measures. Except for demanding a progress report every four months, other provisions of the directive issued by the Home Ministry in June have been withdrawn, said Tiwari.

Foreign funding for Organisations

Fiscal year    Amount (INGO)    Amount (NGO)

2015-16    Rs42.92 billion    Rs23.63 billion

2016-17    Rs35.08 billion    Rs18.95 billion

2017-18    Rs18.51 billion    Rs20.00 billion

Source: Social Welfare Council

Published: 28-08-2018 07:29

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