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 Post subject: Sri Lanka: NGOs monitored to prevent abuse of power
 Post Posted: Sat Jul 16, 2005 1:34 pm 
Sri Lanka: NGOs monitored to prevent abuse of power

Shyamalee Murugesu - from Colombo
@ - Asian Tribune -
Date : 2005-07-16

(Colombo, 16 July, Asiantribune.com): Sri Lankan NGOs have come under fire on numerous charges by the public. One view is that there are too many NGO’s doing too little work and not really progressive enough to contribute or influence any decision-making process in the country. Whilst some NGO’s were commended on the work done in the aftermath of the Tsunami there were many complaints by the people on abuse of funds by some of the well-known NGOs.

After the Tsunami there was an influx of NGO’s and INGO’s applying for registration in Sri Lanka. The ministry of Social Welfare and Women’s Empowerment says 46 NGO’S (33 international 18 local) have already been registered and another 48 are pending registration.

However the Minister of Social Welfare and Women’s empowerment, Mrs. Sumedha Jayasena, commended the work done by the NGO’s stating that the activities of the NGO’s are always complementary and reiterated that all NGOs should ideally register with the government to monitor its activities. An NGO secretariat has been set up for monitoring purpose.
In an interview with the Asian Tribune Mrs Sumedha Jayasena outlined some highlights of the current operations of the NGOs.

Question : Is there an increase in the number of NGO’s registered after the tsunami?

Mrs Sumedha Jayasena: Before the tsunami 936 NGO’s were registered. After the tsunami 46 have been registered and another 48 are pending registration. Out of the 46 registered 33 are international NGO’s and out of 48 pending 39 are INGO’s.

Those seeking registration have to provide information through an application form provided by the NGO secretariat in this ministry along with relevant information needed for registration. The information will then be clarified and rechecked by the NGO secretariat and will then be sent to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and to the Ministry of Defense for clearance.

As a prerequisite the secretariat requests the NGO’S to provide clearance from the Department of External Resources Ministry of Finance as well.

Once it’s cleared by all these ministries a registration of certificate will then be issued by the secretariat.

An INGO will have to submit the following additional information for registration ;

* Registration certificate of the NGO in the country of origin

* Constitution of the same NGO

* A Funding guarantee letter issued by the parent organization

* An authorization letter issued to the country representative to register that NGO in Sri Lanka and a project proposal of its activities in Sri Lanka.

Question : Once its registered is there a monitoring device to oversee the activities of the NGO’S?

Mrs Sumedha Jayasena: Yes, the district basis-monitoring committees have been established and the Government agent in the district acts as the chairperson of the Committee who will monitor the activities and other programs of the NGO against the proposals submitted by them for the ongoing year, with the assistance of several other government officials.

Question : Does the Ministry provide information abroad for NGOs? Are there any local magazines, papers related to NGO’s available abroad?

Mrs Sumedha Jayasena: We are planning to provide necessary materials through Sri Lankan embassies in other countries on registration and supervision of NGO’s.

Question : Whilst the work done by the NGO’s were commended in the aftermath of the tsunami, there were also complaints by the people about the abuse of funds. Any comments?

Mrs Sumedha Jayasena: Activities of the NGO’s are always complementary to the activities of the government ministry or a department. NGO’s also sign Memorandum of understanding with other line ministries before they initiate any activities, which come under the purview of the particular line ministry.

Therefore, the line ministry naturally monitors the activities of the NGO’S. In the case of INGO’s the parent company also monitors the activities which it has provided funds for.

However, with the assistance of the Government Agent of each districts, the mechanism to monitor the activities of the NGO’S registered by the national secretariat is now in operation.

It’s important that all NGO’s register with the government for monitoring purposes. There are also many advantages like tax breaks and duty free concessions and the process of clearing goods will also be made easier.

Question : Will any of the NGO’s play any role in the disbursement of tsunami funds?

Mrs Sumedha Jayasena: Yes

Question : What kind of steps has the ministry taken with regard to rehabilitation of victims?

Mrs Sumedha Jayasena: Ministry has accepted the offers of some NGO’s to rehabilitate social and mental conditions of the tsunami victims through counseling and other sociological approaches. The ministry has launched a separate counseling program to help the victims through wellness clinics in the tsunami-affected districts.

We have to inform the public that the National NGO secretariat has been set up to register and monitor the activities of the NGO’s and provide assistance to them for their development and social activities in the various parts of the Island. The Government Agents have been entrusted to monitor the work of the NGO’s with the representatives of the public. Therefore, the Government expects to advice the NGO’s to adjust their programs if it leads to conflict situations.”

- Asian Tribune -

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