190 INGOs‚ over 500 NGOs under CIAA scanner

Country’s anti-corruption watchdog has seized documents of more than 700 national and international non-governmental organisations after most of them were accused of not maintaining transparency and accountability while spending millions of dollars in the name of social service projects in Nepal.

According to sources, last week the Commission for Investigation of Abuse of Authority seized documents related to more than 700 organisations, including 190 INGOs, from the Social Welfare Council to investigate into allegations of irregularities lodged against them at the SWC. “The documents include the project proposals, agreements, fund transaction details and activities performed by I/NGOs,” sources at the CIAA and SWC confirmed, adding that the investigation was aimed at helping the authorities keep vigil on I/NGOs’ activities and their source of funding.

Officials said CIAA had decided to investigate into the activities of I/NGOs via SWC, as according to the existing legal provisions it was not mandated to make direct intervention against them.“CIAA team had seized hundreds of files from SWC a few days ago,” Member Secretary Rabindra Kumar confirmed, refusing to share details of the CIAA raid. Most of the SWC officials, however, said they were always ready to cooperate with CIAA for in-depth investigation. According to a member involved in the investigation, CIAA can’t disclose the identities of I/NGOs, as it needs time to thoroughly study the files seized from the council. “Most of the I/NGOs are found to have a strong leaning towards high-level political circles, while others have strong ties with bilateral and multi-lateral development partners,” he said, emphasising the sensitivity of the issue.The anti-graft body is also concerned about SWC’s failure to effectively monitor I/NGOs, mainly those operating with foreign aid, which have always been accused of misuse of funds. “The team has also been closely scrutinising SWC’s activities and its response to different issues, including CIAA’s latest circular that alerted the regulatory body to strictly monitor the religious activities of the I/NGOs,” sources said. There are 190 INGOs in the country that have received SWC approval for periodic projects, while only 25 per cent of SWC-affiliated 40,000 NGOs are functional. INGOs from at least 25 countries channelise nearly Rs 10 billion annually for multi-year projects run by NGOs.

Source: THT