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Rasheed Khalid

The News International

Published Date: Jan 18, 2021

https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/775878-govt-civil-society-partnership-important-for-development

Govt, civil society partnership important for development

Islamabad : Syeda Adeela Bokhari from Economic Affairs Division has said that the ministry has devised a new draft policy to ensure the accountability and financial transparency of the INGOs/NGOs which will be implemented after the formal approval from the federal cabinet.

Ms Adeela was addressing a webinar on ‘The State of Civil Society in Pakistan’ jointly organised by Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and Pakistan Centre for Philanthropy (PCP) here Saturday.

Ms Adeela said that her division regulates only those INGOs which receive a financial contribution from the foreign countries and donors. She said that the new policy is expected to respond to various issues and concerns of the sector. Besides, a web-portal is being created to facilitate online applications for the registration of INGOs/NGOs with the EAD.

She said the new policy suggests curtailing time to 60 days for completion of the registration process. She said a record number of MoUs have been finalised during the last quarter. She said the EAD is open to civil society organisations and plans to facilitate those organisations that are doing a good job. She called for greater accountability and transparency in the sector.

Dr Attiya Inayatullah, former parliamentarian and chairperson of the PCP’s research committee, discussing the role of civil society organisations said that these organisations work for the development of the country and democracy. She said that civil society organisations (CSOs) in Pakistan is facing challenges on multiple fronts. “Hence, we need unity of purpose among government, private sector, and civil society as the third sector. She said that to bring a social change and to achieve the goal of sustainable development, the vibrant role of CSOs is the need of the hour,” she added. She said that the government must engage civil society as an important equal partner in development.

Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Shaheed Institute of Science &Technology President Shahnaz Wazir Ali observed that the government should not be just a regulator but it should be a facilitator to the CSOs to make them an equal partner in the development and social uplifting. The challenges such as over-regulation and over-documentation for working of CSOs should be addressed to create an enabling environment for them to serve the society, she added.

Dr Shafqat Munir, Research Fellow at SDPI, said that the government and civil society should have close coordination and work together for sustainable growth and development of the country.

Shazia Maqsood Amjad, Executive Director PCP, said the government needs to be cognizant of the problems the CSOs were facing in terms of the financial and social spheres. She said the PCP provides CSOs the certification which helps them get Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) status from the Federal Board of Revenue.

Ayesha Khan, Country Director, Hashoo Foundation, said that these organisations also provide a platform for the people who are less represented. She said CSOs were having issues in terms of reporting at multiple levels and under multiples laws including various taxation regimes. They need NOC for each project through a touch process. She said that CSOs welcome monitoring and transparency-related measures but there should not be a negative perception of civil society organisation.

Javed Ahmed Malik, Country Director, Democracy Reporting International, emphasised that over-regulation is hampering role of CSOs in the development of the country. Similarly, CSOs should ensure transparency at all levels. He said that the misconception and mistrust regarding NGOs/INGOs should also be addressed. He suggested that EAD and PCP should work hand in hand to handle matters relating to CSOs.

Dr Roomi S Haya, Chairperson, Pakistan National Committee of IUCN, emphasised the need for addressing the trust deficit between the government and the CSOs. He said that CSOs in the country are facing an identity crisis as well due to relatively tough policies for the non-profit organisations as compared to the private sector. He suggested that the government, CSOs, and other stakeholders should talk to each other to make each other’s role vibrant for the development of the country.