NGOs resist pressure to register at local levelNon-government organisations say they are being coerced by a number of local governments to register with them for continuing their activities in the local federal units.
Non-government organisations say they are being coerced by a number of local governments to register with them for continuing their activities in the local federal units.
Most NGOs have been registered at the District Administration Office in accordance with the Organisation Registration Act. But the Local Level Operation Act requires the organisations, consumer committees and cooperatives to coordinate with the local authorities. These institutions have to align their annual plans and programmes with those of the local units and there should be joint inspection of their operation, according to the Act.
The law also says that the local government has the power to restrict the NGOs and other social organisations from implementing programmes if they go against the law. But NGOs complain that the local governments are pressing them to register at the local level, against the Local Level Operation Act.
“Only coordination with local units is mandatory but the local governments are pressing us to register at the local level,” complained Gopal Lamsal, president of the NGO Federation of Nepal. “We are also pressed by the local leadership to operate schemes to serve their political interests.”
Sumnima Tuladhar, general secretary of CWIN Nepal, a noted NGO working in the area of child protection, agreed with Lamsal.
“Local governments have not issued any letter to NGOs with an aim to bar their operation. But there are a lot of complaints from NGOs of verbal threats of possible discontinuation [of their operations],” she said.
NGOs are of the view that it is not practical to register with the local level. Article 51 of the constitution says the state will adopt a single door system for the establishment, approval, operation, regulation and management of community-based and national or international non-governmental organisations.
“We have suggested that the NGOS could be registered at local, district, provincial and federal levels based on their size,” said Lamsal.
However, the local governments are hell-bent on exercising their authority in line with the Local Level Operation Act. They accuse some NGOs of trying to undermine the local governments. “We have not asked them to register with us. But, they must get approval from the local governments to operate their programmes. Otherwise, we will not let them operate within the municipalities,” said Bhim Prasad Dhungana, general secretary of the Municipal Association of Nepal.
Similar is the view of Hom Narayan Shrestha, president of the National Association of Rural Municipalities in Nepal. “NGOs have been resisting our effort to bring them under our purview in line with the Local Level Operation Act,” he told the Post.
According to NGOs, varying interpretations of the Local Level Act have led to the tussle. “It’s the job of the central government to send a clear message to local governments about their authority,” said Tuladhar.
She said that there should be clear demarcation of authority between the federal, provincial and local governments on registration and operation of NGOs.
Around 50,000 NGOs have been affiliated with the Social Welfare Council, a government body responsible for the promotion, facilitation, co-ordination, monitoring and evaluation of the activities of non-governmental social organizations. Last fiscal year, they committed to investing Rs20 billion in different programmes, according to the council.