KBUL (Pajhwok): Some Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) have termed the government’s decision of preventing public sector institutions from signing contracts with NGOs as interference in their affairs and say some contracts this year would remain suspended.
The First Vice President Office in a letter has stopped government institutions from singing contracts with NGOs.
Representatives of NGOs criticized the working framework offered by the government and termed it as interference in their affairs, stressing that the working framework needed to be reviewed.
But government officials say currently work on major projects is underway in the country and whenever NGO have any reservations about any item of the framework they could amend it.
First vice president office:
In February, the first vice president office dispatched a letter that says: “Until the preparation of a working framework for NGOs, government institutions are advised to not to sign any contract or MoU with national or international NGOs.”
The source further wrote that from the issuance of the instruction until the notification of the relevant document, the signing of any kind of contract or memorandum with NGOs, both internal and external, is prohibited and invalid. The signatory will deal with the perpetrator in accordance with the regulations related to administrative violations.
NGOs: Recent government steps make things difficult for us
HameedAzizi, head of the Disabled Social Centre, told Pajhwok Afghan News if the government did not reconsider its decision, no donor will be able to raise funds in this manner and as a result all NGOs activities in Afghanistan will be stopped and this will be a huge injustice with the public.
According to Hameedi civil society organisations, NGOs played their role in strengthening of the government, promoting democracy and its basic role should not be ignored.
An NGO employee who wished not to be named told Pajhwok Afghan News the latest government policy regarding NTOs had created problems and challenged NGOs performance.
He added: “The letters sent and the framework prepared have created many problems, the most important of which are two major problems, one is that the projects have already been stopped, and the other is that if the projects are not signed, donors will take back their projects. It is worrisome”
He said: “In Afghanistan, for example, drought is predicted in provinces; But with this letter and the ban on government and non-government contracts, we lost many projects in this area for Afghanistan. And donors have taken back their projects.”
Referring to the working framework, he said: “In this context, it is stated that projects should be managed by the government; but NGOs, especially international ones, do not accept this.”
He also warned that if the framework is not revised, the activities of NGOs, which carry out hundreds of different projects annually in the center and provinces of Afghanistan, will reduce further.
Working framework on the basis of which NGOs contracts will be signed.
To make sure that NGOs continued their operations the Afghan government has prepared a working framework named: “Signing Contracts with NGOs”.
This 13-page framework is comprised of introduction, basis, objectives, area of implementation, review of existing mechanisms and problems, lack of model (sample) of single contract, monitoring, reporting, stages of preparation and implementation of contracts and memorandum, duties and competencies of the monitoring committee. Contracts and Memoranda of Understanding are the stages of concluding contracts and Memoranda of Understanding, the oversight mechanism by ministries and government departments, the Committee for Oversight of Contracts and Agreements, the reporting mechanism, the responsibilities of departments and the classification of NGOs.
On the basis of this framework NGOs contracts will be signed with government organs.
NGOs: working framework is against NGO law
Copy of working framework reviewed by NGOs representatives is available with Pajhwok Afghan News with critical comments at every section.
One of the NGO head, wishing not to be named, said that representatives of all NGOs had reviewed most part of the framework collectively. He said their first criticism is at the second paragraph of its preamble.
Instead of using the phrase Moderiat-e-Behtar — better administration — the phrases Nazarat-e-Behtar — better monitoring — or better understanding should be used.
He said NGO representative have their reservations in other areas — Contracts and agreement management process, administration and implementation process and contract ending process.
He said most parts of the working framework had problem and thus representatives of NGOs demanded revisiting the framework agreement to bring necessary changes.
A worker of a domestic NGO who wished to go unnamed said that recent government actions had created problems for NGOs.
“The letter and the framework introduced by the government have created a lot of problems,” he said.
Shared programs with NGOs are suspended until the creation of the framework: Government organs”
Most of NGOs are active in education, health and reconstruction areas that provide services to remote areas of the country in collaboration with ministries of education, public health and rural rehabilitation and development.
Relevant government organs did not provide details on the regard when asked, but said that the government’s actions did not interrupt implementation of any projects.
FeraidonAzhand, spokesman for the Ministry of Rural Rehabilitation and Development, said that the ministry had suspended its collaboration with NGOs until the creation of new framework.
“We implement more than 90 percent of our projects with support of the Development Council and work less with NGOs. It did not create any problems for the ministry and we wait for the government’s order for resumption of suspended projects,” he said.
Azhand said the second phase of National Food Program, being implemented with support of NGOs, was going on as the first vice president had made an exception for that.
A letter from the first vice presidency’s office released on March 9 states that government and non-government organs could send agreements with urgency to the first vice presidency to respond to them on time considering probability of rejection of fund to emergency programs.
On the other hand, GhulamDastagirNazari, spokesman for the Ministry of Public Health, told Pajhwok that the contract period of projects being implemented by NGOs in the capital and provinces were not ended yet as most of contracts were for two or three years.
He said that contracts which were being expired would be extended and there was no problem on the regard.
Najiba Aryan, spokeswoman of the Ministry of Education, said that the ministry’s projects contracted with NGOs were still ongoing and around 50 projects have so far been implemented since the beginning of this year.
“All documents for projects are shared, we received the response on time due to the urgency of the issue, the agreement is signed and is under legal process,” she said without elaborating.
NGOs’ activities should be based on a framework: Experts
Qais Mohammadi, a lecturer in a private university and an economy expert, welcomed the creation of a framework for NGOs by the government and said that any economic or non-economic activities of organizations should be based on a framework.
However, he said that the views and demands of NGOs should be also taken into account in the framework so it would not prevent them from their activities which the government was unable to carry out.
About the interference of government in NGOs, he said, “The framework created by the government does not allow it to interfere in the fundamental areas of NGOs.” He said that changes should be made in the framework based on the requests of NGOs.
However, Ramazan Bashardost, a lawmaker from Kabul, said, “NGOs do not provide charity services in Afghanistan, but they work on behalf of a company… a framework should be created for management of their activities.”
“Unfortunately nothing in Afghanistan is done in the interest of people, nor the government neither NGOs have effectively worked for people, 99 percent of assistance to Afghanistan is embezzled,” he added.
Framework is not final; views of NGO would be included: Ministry of Economy
SaboorNariman, spokesperson of the Ministry of Economy, said that the aim of letters from the first vice president’s office sent to all governmental organs was improving efficiency of NGOs, creation of close cooperation among NGOs, donors and the government, ensuring transparency, stable development and improving the reporting system of organizations.
“The framework is centric to only agreements of government organizations with NGOs, which was created by the legal unit of the Presidential Palace and the office of first vice president and a circular of the draft was shared with all NGOs and relevant organs,” he said.
About criticism of NGOs, he said that the framework was still not final and it would include suggestions of organizations.
Nariman also said that there were no any interruptions in activities of NGOs and their projects were still ongoing considering their importance and urgency.
He said that NGOs currently implemented around 3,000 projects worth nearly $800 million in different provinces of the country. He added that 1,912 domestic NGOs and 267 foreign organizations were registered with the Ministry of Economy and they were active in the capital and different provinces of the country.
The First Vice-President’s media office in response to the fact that the NGOs considered the two movements as interference in their work and requested for amendment in the framework, said:
“The High Council of Rule of Law and Governance, and High Advisory Board to the President are working on the document, which will be applicable after finalized by High Advisory Board to the President.”