Speaking at the National Conference on Coordination, Transparency and Cooperation with Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) on Tuesday, Minister of Economy Abdul Satar Murad announced new plans to increase the transparency and accountability of NGO work in Afghanistan by adding greater government oversight.
Meeting with representatives from governmental and non-governmental organizations, the minister said something needs to be done to decrease aid waste and enhance the effectiveness of projects. From now on, he added, all NGOs operating in Afghanistan will be expected to provide a report on their projects and their funding to the Ministry of Economy (MoEc) annually.
“The Ministry of Economy emphasizes the principles of effectiveness, transparency and public accountability when it comes to the implementation of projects,” Minister Murad said. “In order to ensure transparency and accountability, this Ministry believes in continuous and close oversight.”
Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah’s First Deputy Khan Muhammad was also present at the gathering on Tuesday. He spoke about need for greater transparency in the contracting process with NGOs. He claimed that many contracts have been awarded on the basis of personal relations, rather than viability or execution.
“Some of the NGOs have influence in some of the ministries, and due to their influence, they take the contracts,” Khan Muhammad said. “They don’t have the technology for the contracts, nor the right personnel; they can only get the contract due to their influence, and sub-contractors. This is an issue that representatives from all ministries must pay attention to.”
On the other hand, NGO leaders defended their practices, suggesting the level of transparency in non-governmental operations around the country exceeds that of the government itself.
“If we compare transparency in the government and NGOs, there is a major difference,” Afghanistan NGOs board member Baryal Omerzai said. “When an NGO gets funds from a donor for a project, the NGO reports to the donor and Ministry of Economy and to people who are the beneficiaries. In addition to all these reports, NGOs provide reports to ministries like the Ministry of Public Health or Ministry of Economy.”
According to Afghan officials, there are currently 1,947 NGOs registered with the Ministry of Economy. Of those, 273 are foreign NGOs and 1,674 are domestic.