Nepal | June 17, 2019

Ulterior motives

Editorial

The Himalayan Times

There has been a spurt in the number of international non-government organizations (INGOs) working in Nepal after the mega-earthquake of April 25 and its aftershocks. The authorities are having a difficult time in monitoring these organizations and their activities. According to the figures made available, over 100 new INGOs are operating in Nepal after the devastating earthquake. However, only 13 of them have registered with the Social Welfare Council (SWC) so far. In the last eight weeks alone after the disasters shook the country these INGOs are carrying out various activities without receiving the permission from the Social Welfare Council as they are required to do. Of the more than 42,000 NGOs registered with the SWC, it has permitted only 198 INGOs to provide foreign funding of billions of rupees through these NGOs prior to the April 25 earthquake.

The unregistered INGOs lack accountability and transparency as what they are doing and where are unknown

The government is, therefore, unaware about where and how these INGOs are working. These INGOs numbering about 100 were not in touch with the SWC. As per the Social Welfare Act, the INGOs bringing in money should seek the permission of the government before they can start operating. We do not have to look far for this predicament. The lack of coordination amongst the government ministries is said to have enabled the errant INGOs to carry out unauthorized activities, which may well be detrimental to the social, cultural and religious harmony and cohesion prevailing in the country and strike at other Nepali interests, including its sovereignty and other vital concerns and priorities.

Tribhuvan International Airport had witnessed the arrival of 42,512 third country nationals between April 25 and June 17. It can be surmised that many of them were so-called foreign experts who had entered the country on tourist visas. They were mostly associated with one INGO or the other. The unregistered INGOs naturally lack accountability and transparency as what they are doing and where are unknown. Questions such as the high administrative costs of INGOs come later on. Thus, it is in the interest of the country to monitor the activities of all the INGOs as soon as possible. The unrestricted entry of INGOs of all sorts has already done much damage to the country’s national interests, but further inaction will only make things only worse. The unhealthy relationship between the donors and the INGOs is one of the reasons why it has been difficult to monitor INGOs. But such excuses as lack of coordination and donor-INGO collusion have been offered for decades by our bureaucrats and government leaders to cover up their dependency mindset and failure to act firmly. Such excuses will not do. Only required action on the part of the government can bring something positive. The government needs to strictly screen INGOs and decide whom to allow entry and whom to refuse entry based on the country’s needs and priorities and the antecedents of the INGOs concerned. If many other countries, including our neighbours can ban undesirable INGOs, the government’s continued helplessness is indefensible.

Root problem

With the SLC results out a few days ago, the Plus Two colleges are already gearing up their advertising campaigns to lure the most number of students possible by making claims, true or false. One is the claim a number of them are making to present themselves as the best. This claim violates the Higher Secondary Education Board (HSEB) Code of Conduct, and HSEB has warned to take action against the offenders.

The Code of Conduct that came into force in April 2013 had also issued guidelines that prevented, among other things, yearly advertising expenses of more than five lakh rupees in the Valley. It is another matter whether those guidelines have been respected, monitored, or, whether, in cases of violation, the guilty have been penalised. In the tough competitive market, the players often forget about ethics, but focus only on economics. For example, a number of schools, including preschools, have started presenting themselves as ‘earthquake resistant’ schools and some have already started reaping benefits. But it is the duty of the regulatory bodies to monitor and penalize the offenders with an iron hand. It is here that the root of the problem lies.


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