Opinion and Analysis
While taming rogue NGOs, let us protect noble charities
The proposed Public Benefit Organisations Bill 2012 is long overdue. For many years, the non-governmental organisations sector has become a home for cheats, near-do-wells, and loud mouths.
Terror groups are today known to use NGOs to transact what passes for legal business. Some create a veil of deceit in the name of charity. These are the people the new law should target.\
While there are hundreds of NGOs out there which are committed to their work and are transparent and accountable, there are hundreds that are not worth their registration certificate.
It is these bad apples that should be removed from our midst.
While the NGO sector has become a cash-cow for many unscrupulous individuals, the Non-Governmental Organisations Coordination Board has been unable to tame reckless misuse of donor funds and failed to improve on accountability of the same.
This has not only led to the proliferation of briefcase NGOs, but has also made nonsense of the quest to regulate the sector.
Will a new law help this nation regulate the sector? We believe that what is required is a strong monitoring mechanism and improvement on accountability.
This is more so for the political and quasi-economic NGOs which specialise in press conferences, picketing, and court battles and are only accountable to their paymasters.
No nation can be effectively monitored by such opaque organisations which hardly account for their money publicly; despite their call for transparency within government.
National security demands that we improve the level of surveillance of all institutions that operate locally; know the source of their funding and intended recipients.
If we cannot do this, we will become victims of the mischief of some of the charities.
It is important that the government keeps a proper register of all NGOs, their work stations, and field offices.
But while the ultimate aim of the new law is to streamline the work of NGOs and charities, the same law should not be used to deter those who carry out noble work in communities from fulfilling their mandate.
They must be protected from harsh rules that could end up hurting the people they serve. There should be balance between national security and the good of the nation.