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ISLAMABAD: Minister for Economic Affairs, Omar Ayub Khan, inaugurated the NGOs e-Portal and help desk facility in the Ministry of Economic Affairs to improve aid effectiveness, transparency, and impact of foreign contributions.

Noor Ahmed, secretary, Economic Affairs Division and representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NGOs including Community World Service Asia; SPADO and HRDN, attended the event.

The EAD secretary briefed the participants about the overall structure of the current NGO sector in Pakistan and the NGO Policy, 2013, which suffered from many deficiencies, including lack of clear definition, eligibility conditions, appeal process, oversight and reporting arrangements, and obligations and prohibitions.

Under this policy, approval procedure is cumbersome and takes on average 12-18 months to complete consultation with multiple ministries, departments, and agencies.

He informed the participants that a new “Policy for NGOs/NPOs receiving Foreign Contribution–2021” has been approved by the ECC in its meeting held on 16th June, 2021.

Under the new policy, approval process will be completed within 60 days, maximum, through online submission of application and consultations, while doing away with manual processing and eliminating long delays.

The NGOs e-portal will expand space for credible organisations for a greater role in socioeconomic development, and will deter NGOs with dubious credentials.

Enhanced data reporting and disclosure requirements with smart oversight arrangements will significantly improve aid effectiveness, transparency, and impact of foreign contributions. The Minister for Economic Affairs stated that the NGOs space has shrunken in the country over the years and the current government is committed to enhance the role of the private sector and the NGOs.

He lauded the INGOs/NGOs team of the EAD and highlighted that the NGOs e-portal is a milestone for facilitating the NGOs and the civil society organisations.

He further deliberated that the government acknowledges the role of the NGOs as it alone does not have the capacity to engage overwhelming majority of the people, especially, the vulnerable and the poor, in implementation of its development agenda.

The e-Portal offers online submission of fresh applications; renewals, additional projects requests, auto generated correspondence such as acknowledgements, approvals and regrets.

Online concurrence by stakeholders with a time-bound software application would help to expedite the consultative process.

It will also provide individual access to each NGO with its unique user ID and password and tracking options.

The dashboard for approved, under process and regretted NGOs will be updated on a real-time basis.

After approval, the MoUs and other documents will be sent to the concerned organisations electronically.

The e-portal was piloted and consistently, improved before final launch, however, to make it more user friendly, it is being improved gradually.

The FAQs, checklists, relevant laws and policies will be available on the NGOs e-portal, along with user guide manuals and videos.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2021

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