LAHORE: Heads of leading non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the city have said that they would welcome government’s monitoring of the NGOs’ activities.
Addressing the concerns raised by the legislators, the NGO-heads invited them to visit their organistions and see for themselves where and how the donor-funds were spent.
They criticised the comments made by some of the members of the provincial assembly about the NGOs’ lack of transparency and misuse of the funds that they receive from foreign donors.
Mohammad Tahseen, the South Asia Partnership Pakistan executive director, said that the NGOs should welcome the attention.
“By discussing the role of the NGOs, the legislators have, in a way, acknowledged that they are doing some important work for the society,” he said.
He called some members’ allegations that NGO heads were misusing funds as ‘primitive thinking’.
He said that the NGOs have annual audits. Besides, the donors keep a close watch on their spending. He mentioned that all NGOs were registered with the Social Welfare Department under the Societies’ Acts.
“Do they mean that the government registers non-transparent organisations,” he added.
He said that he would welcome the parliamentarians to come and see how his organisation functions.
On foreign funds and NGOs being anti-state, he said, “The Punjab government pays the salaries of some of its employees from the aid it receives from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Can that fact be used to suggest that it is working on a foreign agenda?” he questioned.
Salman Abid, the Strengthening Participatory Organisation (SPO) regional head, said that he would support government’s monitoring of the NGOs’ activities. However, he said that this should be done through appropriate legislation and not by making baseless allegations.
He said that the NGOs would discuss the issue on a joint platform.
Khawar Mumtaz, the Shirkat Gah chief executive officer (CEO), said that the recent tirade of the PA members on the media and then the NGOs seemed to be an attempt to distract public’s attention from themselves.
“First, they tried to pressure the media into moving away from the fake degree issue and now they have started bashing the NGOs for no apparent reason,” she said.
She said that the government had itself registered the NGOs. She added that some of the NGOs might not be fully functional but it was for the government to check them.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 19th, 2010.
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