KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) has instructed all commercial banks to furnish details of bank accounts belonging to nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) operating in the country.
The move comes just days after the Supreme Court expressed dissatisfaction with the Centre and provinces over their failure to keep a tab on the activities of foreign-funded NGOs in Pakistan.
Confirming the development to The Express Tribune on Sunday, an SBP spokesperson said the central bank asked for information on the bank accounts of the NGOs working in the country on the request of Attorney General of Pakistan Salman Aslam Butt.
“The AGP approached us after the Supreme Court told him to produce details about the NGOs operating in Pakistan,” SBP Director and Chief Spokesman Abid Qamar said. However, the SBP has not issued any formal circular or notification to that effect so far.
Earlier media reports quoted the deputy attorney general as saying that the NGOs received funds directly in their bank accounts in most cases.
According to the SBP spokesman, however, the central bank does not maintain any readily available data on the number of NGOs operating in the country and details of their multiple bank accounts. “We are going to seek information from relevant quarters,” he said.
The NGOs that receive foreign funding have come under fresh scrutiny in recent weeks. The top court came down hard on the federal and provincial governments last week for their failure to take adequate steps to regulate the activities of foreign-funded NGOs some six months after the National Action Plan against terrorism was announced.
“We find it quite amazing that although the registration, funding, etc of NGOs is supposedly covered/regulated by four basic statutes … the five governments appear not to have relevant figures and statistics in respect of the NGOs, their sources of funding, their principals and office-bearers, and other relevant information,” the court observed in its order passed on Wednesday.
“It is recognised by the governments that there is a potential for misuse of funding received by NGOs… [But] there is no apparent effort on their part to even gather basic statistics which would be necessary for preventing such potential misuse,” it noted further.
The court’s remarks prompted the interior ministry on Saturday to clarify that the National Action Plan had nothing to do with the monitoring of activities of international NGOs. The ministry maintained that the economic affairs division was responsible for the registration of international NGOs.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 6th, 2015.