Social Welfare Council tightens noose on local NGOsOfficials say the new provisions are aimed at discouraging local groups from engaging in activities related to religious conversion and inviting social disharmony.
Prithvi Man Shrestha
The Social Welfare Council has tightened the noose on the local non-governmental organisations by putting a number of conditions before getting their project proposals approved.
In a recently revised project proposal format, the council has made the provision that the non-governmental organisations should not propose any activities that have been barred by the country’s laws. Although the provision has not specified any law, officials told the Post it was made to discourage the NGOs from engaging in any activities that are related to religious conversion and can create social disharmony.
“Civil Code has clearly made provision of penalty for the activities related to religious conversion,” said Rajendra Poudel, member secretary at the council. “The new provision will help the authority to check if any project proposal has a provision that is contrary to this provision.”
According to another official at the council, who only agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, it will be also vigilant on NGOs that are focussed on advocacy-related works that contradict promotion of social harmony.
“As Development Cooperation Policy is also known as foreign aid policy, has prioritised infrastructure development, we also want local NGOs which receive funding from international agencies, to follow the policy,” the official said.
Such strict provision was earlier made only for the international non-governmental organisations. But Office of Auditor General, in its latest report, had named a number of local NGOs which were accused of acts to promote Christianity in the country.
Himalaya Bible Study Academy and Nepal Christian Bal Sishkya Sangati are among the NGOs named by the Auditor General’s Office that carried out activities to promote Christianity.
The Auditor General’s office has also recommended that while approving foreign aid, the government agency should discourage activities that affect religious and cultural unity of the country.
The council had not attached any condition for approving the project proposals as per the earlier version. But the official said that strict provision was made to discourage the tendency of some NGOs who carried out different activities than what they were approved for.
In a new format, the council has not allowed non-partner NGOs to receive fund from international NGOs. During the programme approval, the international groups also mention the local NGOs through which they would be mobilising their fund.
“But we have evidence to show that occasionally some international NGOs provided the fund to the NGOs which were not partner NGOs while getting programme approval from the council,” said Shiva Kumar Basnet, spokesperson at the council.
The council has also told the NGOs that they should not get a foreign fund going against the Money Laundering Prevention Act. It has already signed a memorandum of understanding with the Department of Money Laundering Investigation to discourage such acts in the social service sector.