Diplomats: Regulations for NGOs must be fair and reasonable

By: OUMA WANZALA

A group of diplomats Wednesday came to the defence of 957 NGOs that are at risk of being deregistered for failing to submit audited accounts to the sector’s regulator.

The diplomats said they support strong, vibrant, free and independent civil society in Kenya.

“As international partners, we are fully committed to supporting appropriate transparency and accountability with regard to NGOs,” said the diplomats, in a joint statement.

They were ambassadors Robert Godec (United States of America), Joost Reintjes (Netherlands), Victor Rønneberg (Norway), Ms Tarja Fernandez (Finland), Johan Borgstam (Sweden), Mrs Jutta Frasch (Germany) and Geert Aagaard Andersen (Denmark). Others were High Commissioners Christian Turner (United Kingdom) and David Angell (Canada).

The diplomats insisted that regulations for the NGOs sector must be fair, reasonable, and justly administered.

REQUIRE AUDITS

“We urge the board (NGOs Coordination Board) to ensure all NGOs have timely information and an adequate opportunity to answer any questions or address concerns.

“We, as donors, require detailed financial reports and regular audits from NGOs that we partner with, and insist on transparency and accountability in our ongoing oversight,” read the statement.

They also insisted that they had no evidence to show that NGOs whose activities they support financially are supporting or funding terrorism or are engaging in other illegal activity.

“We again urge the government of Kenya to implement, as soon as possible, the Public Benefit Organisations Act of 2013, which provides an excellent framework for the regulation of civil society organisations while at the same time ensuring transparency and accountability in the sector’s work,” they said.

Last week, the board threatened to deregister the NGOs for failure to submit their audited accounts and gave them two weeks to do so.

However, Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru suspended the directive and gave the NGOs more time to provide the required information.

The board says NGOs have not accounted for Sh23 billion out of Sh140 billion that the sector received from donors.

SOURCE: DAILY NATION