SECTIONS

Kenyans reject proposal to cut funding of civil society organisations

A task force has rejected proposals by the Government to cap foreign funding of civil society organisations at 15 per cent.

A report by the team chaired by former nominated MP Sophia Abdi, which captures the views of people across the country, shows Kenyans are opposed to the Government’s attempt to limit funding to the civil society.

The report, produced by a team chaired by former nominated MP Sophia Abdi, did not recommend amendments to the Public Benefits Organisation Act to suit the desire of the Government to limit external funding of NGOs.

The task force was formed in November last year after Government’s attempts to amend the Public Benefits Organisation Act sparked controversy. The Jubilee government was accused of attempting to muzzle the civil society by limiting external funding.

Also, the task force did not recommend the proposal that NGOs with more than 15 per cent external funding be declared “foreign entities”.

The team also threw out the proposal to channel all money that NGOs get from donors to a central government agency.

Instead, the report suggests that NGOs contribute one per cent of the funds they receive from donors to the institution that will regulate NGOs.

It also calls for enhanced financial reporting standards for NGOs to ensure money received from donors is not lost through corruption as is currently the case.

OPERATIONALISE ACT

It recommends “transparency, accountability and monitoring of donors, stakeholders and beneficiaries in accordance with international financial reporting standards and more specifically on disclosure of sources and application of funds”.

Inter-religious Council of Kenya Executive Director Francis Kuria has asked the Government to immediately operationalise the PBO Act instead of waiting to amend it. The council was part of the task force.

“The law was assented more than two years ago but has never been implemented. Let it be implemented now and if there are any amendments they can always be made later during implementation,” he said.

The National Council of NGOs in Kenya Chairman Wilson Kipsang has also called on Devolution Cabinet Secretary Anne Waiguru to fast-track implementation of the PBO Act without the suggested changes.

“The task force report shows that majority of Kenyans want the PBO Act implemented as it is without limiting external funding of NGOs as suggested by the Government. The law is very progressive as it is and will provide an enabling environment for NGOs to operate,” he said.

The PBO Act 2013 was assented into law in January 2013 by the then President Mwai Kibaki but its implementation was halted when Jubilee came to power a few months later after it sought to amend the law to increase executive power over the registration, regulation and funding of the sector. Between 2013 and 2014, the Government made five attempts to amend the PBO Act.