Kathmandu, November 26
Social Welfare Council today conceded that it had failed to monitor national and international non-governmental organisations effectively for various reasons such as lack of skilled human resources, lack of clarity in laws, internal structural problems, unstable political leadership, policy instability and internal disputes, among others.
At a meeting of the Parliamentary Women and Social Welfare Committee, SWC Member-Secretary Rajendra Kumar Poudel urged the government to address the issues.
“We require 171 employees, but only 131 staffers have been appointed. On top of that, most of the staffers cannot communicate in English,” Poudel said, adding, “We have been told to closely monitor the activities of NGOs and INGOs, and keep an aye on their hidden interests, but we lack skilled human resources for the job.”
Poudel told the meeting SWC had not been able to track the source of funds coming directly from donor countries to NGOs. “We also lack a mechanism to ensure that feedback from our field monitoring is incorporated in the government’s policies,” he said.
SWC treasurer Bir Bahadur Thagunna said ministers changed seven times during his 21-month tenure with SWC. The minister for women, children and senior citizens is SWC’s chairperson. “Unstable leadership also contributes to our poor performance,” said Thagunna. “The situation is such that we still do not know how many bank accounts SWC has in various banks. We have reactivated hundreds of dormant bank accounts and deposited Rs 47,700,000. We should now activate 31 more accounts immediately and deposit Rs 16,000,000.”
Thagunna, also the coordinator of the SWC’s I/NGO monitoring committee, said around 1,500 organisations annually sign agreements with SWC, but only 200 such organisations were monitored in a year previously. “We are trying to take the number to 500 this fiscal,” he said. Stating that the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers always complained about weak SWC monitoring, he said service seekers had been facing problems also because of internal disputes within SWC. “We are trying to address the issues,” he said.
A probe commission formed by the government has been studying alleged irregularities in the SWC and it is expected to come up with a report by December 12. The five-member commission is led by former judge Mohan Raman Bhattarai.
According to SWC, 48,273 organisations were registered in the country as of mid-July. Foreign assistance endorsed by SWC in the first four months of the fiscal year stands at Rs 858,973,905 from 20 NGOs. SWC collects Rs 20,000,000 annually in service fees from I/NGOs.
A version of this article appears in print on November 27, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.