Vol. 5 Num 1115 Fri. July 20, 2007  
Front Page

NGOs asked to spend 50pc foreign funds on visible dev works

The non-government organisations (NGOs) will have to ensure accountability in getting and spending foreign funds and dedicate half the money to tangible development work, says a recent circular by the NGO Affairs Bureau.

Issued on Tuesday in the light of a notification from the army headquarters on July 9, the circular says the NGO Affairs Bureau and Social Welfare Directorate will closely observe various invisible programmes like public awareness campaigns and trainings undertaken by the NGOs to ensure accountability.

"At least 50 percent of the foreign funding will have to be spent on visible development like building and upkeep of roads, schools and culverts and excavation or re-excavation of canals," it reads.

The decision has been taken at the 11th meeting on July 3 reviewing the activities of the joint forces deployed in aid of the civil administration and law enforcement agencies under the state of emergency.

The notification mentions that one of the agenda of the meeting was activities of the NGOs.

It asked the concerned officials at the Bureau to take steps according to the decision of the meeting that also discussed how to shut down projects that are not of any benefit to the people.

Talking to The Daily Star last evening, Khushi Kabir, co-ordinator of Nijera Kori, questioned the validity of the circular.

She said, "We don't see the Chief Adviser's Office's connection with the circular though the Bureau is under it."

"Of course, the authorities can monitor our activities; we have no problem with that. But dictating where we'll have to spend half the funds is not acceptable," she added.

The donors approve projects and allocate funds for the NGOs only after knowing in which sectors the money would be spent. Besides, the NGOs have to get clearance from the Bureau as well.

"We do not know why out of nowhere a decision like this has been taken. It goes against the people, the country and its development," Kabir observed.

Contacted, former adviser to the caretaker government and ASA Chairman Shafiqul Haque Chowdhury said, "I haven't yet received any circular and neither am I informed of the matter."