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Guidelines for NGOs


Non governmental organisations (NGOs) have mushroomed in the country and many of such bodies engage themselves in highly undesirable activities. Some foreign-backed NGOs are also allegedly involved in the religious conversion of people. Reportedly, poor families are targeted by them for conversion through enticing offers of loans and jobs.
Then there are the NGOs bodies that have transparent political objectives. They were accused of making endeavours to mobilise support for a particular political party during the last three general elections in Bangladesh. The NGOs are supposed to be non-political organisations working for the social and economic good of the people of the country; their dabbling in politics, therefore, understandably creates suspicion and is unacceptable. Even some NGOs have been blamed for women and child trafficking and others for drug trafficking.
A good number of NGOs under the garb of micro-credit operations are actually conducting bank-like activities in the rural areas by extending loans to very poor people at extraordinary high rates of interest and also recovering the same by employing harsh methods. This is hurting all those NGOs that are otherwise doing a credible job for supporting income-generating and employment-creating activities. Meanwhile, the insufficient banking services and lack of formal institutional credit operations in the rural areas make rural Bangladesh the happy hunting ground of these so-called NGOs.
Thus, the case is ripe for the introduction of a set of rules or guidelines for NGO activities. The aim must be to produce and enforce a set of guidelines as soon as possible for proper regulation of the NGO activities.
The above must not be misunderstood as advocating a curb on NGO activities. Indeed, there is ample recognition of the right type of NGO activities in Bangladesh. But there are also the NGO activities that do not seem to be consistent with the declared goals or policies of the government. Such NGOs should be well regulated.
Imran Ahmed
Shaymoli, Dhaka.