PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has de-registered 65 per cent of the non-governmental organisations functioning in the province before freezing their bank accounts over failure to provide their funding and project details to the government to meet the requirements of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the global illicit financing watchdog.
Sources in the industries and social welfare departments told Dawn that a total of 5,931 NGOs operated in different sectors across the province and 3,851 of them were de-registered.
They said the de-registration came in light of the government’s NGO mapping efforts to meet certain FATF requirements.
The two departments deal with the affairs of NGOs, including their registration.
The sources said the social welfare department had de-registered 3,030 of the 3,838 NGOs registered with it, while the industries department had de-registered 821 of the 1,097 NGOs registered with it.
Action taken over organisations’ failure to produce funding, project details
They, however, said no NGO had been found involved in terror financing or anti-state activities.
The sources said in the whole exercise of mapping NGOs, which began in May 2019 after the emergence of the FATF issue, the federal and provincial governments had doubts about the activities of around 80 NGOs functioning in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, but it was declared that they all were fair and were not involved in any kind of terror financing or other anti-state activities when they were probed by the counter terrorism department.
They said the government first distributed a nine-page form to NGOs working in the province to produce detailed information of their affairs.
The sources said when the administration of NGOs didn’t submit form to the social welfare and industries departments, letters were issued to them time and again to report to their registration authorities, but to no avail.
They added that the government later placed advertisements in local newspapers about the form submission for the information of all such NGOs.
The sources said the two departments later began de-registering noncompliant NGOs and freezing their bank accounts.
The major information sought by the government from NGOs include registration certificates; constitution, rules and regulations; annual action plan and five years strategic plan; detailed annual budget; tax registration certificates; tax exemption certificates; tax returns of the last three years; evidence of withholding taxes, and annual performance reports for three years.
It also included details of the three years account audit; the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Pakistan membership certificate of the auditor; funding guarantee letter containing donor commitment; proof of local residence; copies of publications and magazines and newsletters; passport and visas in case of foreigners; project reports, and minutes of the board meetings.
A national NGO’s coordinator told Dawn that his organisation was de-registered in Oct last year and he was unaware of it.
“When I approached the industries department last Nov for the renewal of registration, I was informed that our NGO has been de-registered for not complying with the government’s instructions,” he said.
The coordinator said he had received a form sent in by the industries department seeking detailed information about the organisation.
“I wrote all sought-after information in the form and sent it back to the given postal address,” he said.
He said the industries department officials told him that they hadn’t received the form, so the NGO was de-registered.
The coordinator said he had also given all details to the officials of the counter terrorism department when they visited his offices for the office and record examination.
Another NGO’s representative told Dawn that around 50 employees of his organisation hadn’t received salary for three months due to the freezing of its bank accounts by the government.
“We have submitted all required information in detail to the industries department as we usually do for registration renewal every year,” he said.
The NGO’s representative said the offices was shifted from one place to another within Peshawar and when the CTD officials showed up to inspect offices, they found them closed and reported its non-existence.
“The government officials didn’t bother to call or email our office’s staff members and thus, creating financial problems,” he said.
He said following the closure of bank accounts, the NGO’s three donors warned that if the accounts didn’t become operational, they would stop funding.
Home secretary Ikramullah was not available for comments.
However, an official of the department insisted that the de-registered NGOs, which fulfilled the prescribed criteria for operation, would be registered again in line with a decision made in a meeting on Tuesday.
He said the special secretary (home) chaired the meeting, which was attended by officials of the social welfare, industries, counter terrorism and law departments.
Published in Dawn, January 23rd, 2020