The Institute for Democratic Governance (IDEG), a policy research and advocacy organisation, is advocating a strict legal regime to regulate civil society organisations (CSOs) and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the wake of the use of some of the organisations to promote money laundering and terrorists agenda.
According to the IDEG, some people were using and exploiting CSOs as points of entry to engage in money laundering and the financing of terrorists activities due to the dependence of such organisations on foreign aid.
It, therefore, called for a “fit-for-purpose” law to regulate and facilitate the activities of CSOs and NGOs in line with their mandates.
The Executive Director of IDEG, Dr Emmanuel Akwetey, made the call at a forum to disseminate a Ghana Civil Society Organisation (CSO) Sustainability Index report in Accra last Wednesday.
The report outlined advances and setbacks in the civil society sector through assessments of seven key dimensions: legal environment, organisational capacity, financial viability, advocacy, service provision, infrastructure and public image.
Using a standard set of indicators and collecting data annually, the CSOs Sustainability Index tracks changes in the strength of the CSO sector over time.
Dr Akwetey described the legal environment in which CSOs and NGOs in the country are formed as very liberal, a situation which he claimed could encourage the use of such organisations to engage in illegal activities.
While calling for sustainable ways to support NGOs and CSOs, Dr Akwetey also advocated a law to facilitate their work, saying “a law to facilitate work of these NGOs and CSOs was long overdue since the first attempt to have such a law was in 1993.”
The law, he said, would also help regulate the activities of the CSOs and NGOs to ensure that they operated within the confines of the law.
Dr Akwetey, meanwhile, called for support for NGOs which he said played critical roles in shaping and deepening the country’s democracy.
“CSOs and NGOs are constructive forces in the country and their contributions are phenomenal. We have attracted huge funds which would not have come into the country.
“Politicians and political parties have benefitted immensely from our work, but we have been left in the hands of donors and foreign aid without any support,” he added.
A Senior Research Fellow at IDEG, Mr Kwesi Jonah, also stated that, CSOs and NGOs had complemented efforts of government over the years for which they deserved to be appreciated, recognised and supported.
He said it was time a legal framework to strengthen the work of CSOs and NGOs was developed and passed into law.
Findings of report
Presenting the findings of the report, a Development Consultant, Mr Douglas Quartey, said it indicated that the legal environment for CSOs and NGOs in Ghana was favourable as they operated freely and were able to debate, oppose and offer constructive criticisms on government policies without fear.
The report, however, revealed that the financial viability of CSOs in Ghana was weak, following dwindling inflows from donors.
The report, further showed that advocacy was the strongest factor for sustainability of Ghanaian CSOs which it said, had good public image.