Dialogue with Provincial Assembly Member on CSO Issues

The CSO representatives, journalists including some member of the parliament from Provicne-5 have opined that the Social Organizational Bill, 2075 which is in the cabinet for its endorsement contains some issues which are not CSOs centric and thus shrink their roles in future. This indeed is not constitutional and would lay the ground for controlling the CSO in the veil of monitoring them

They were expressing their views and opinions at an event organized by the GoGo Foundation with the financial support of FHI360 on 22 April, 2019 at Butwal- the capital of Province-5. The event was organized to bring the CSO representatives and provincial minister, member of assembly and local leaders not only to discuss the issues, problems and challenges of CSO in the changed political spectrum but also hints the doable solution to that end.

The half day multi-stakeholder dialogues was Chaired by Rima BC, District Chair Person of the NGO Federation, Rupandehi, while the special guests of the event included dignitaries from diverse background including Minister of Social Development, Member of Assembly , President of the Bar Association, Rupandehi and Vice-President of the Federation of Nepalese Journalist, Rupandehi District.

After inaugural session, the ED of GoGo Foundation made a presentation on the issues related with CSOs including challenges in the process of its registration and other pertinent issues present. He also presented the existing position of CSOs in Nepal among nine South Asia/East Asian countries based on seven indicators. The present situation is already not encouraging and it will deteriorate even further if government continues to view us as its competitor, he concluded.

The presentation laid the ground for two way interaction and intense dialogue. Their views and feedbacks are summarized below.
Chief Guest, Sudarshan Baral, Minister, Social Development, Province-5 said that elected members have discussed the social organization bill in the provincial cabinet. He further added that he will continue his effort in the process of facilitation between government and civil society. On the other hand, the capacity of CSO must also be strengthened to institutionalize the democracy earned after several struggles. He finally assured that the laws will be CSOs friendly and thus ensuring legal enabling environment for them. Likewise, the Provincial Member of Assembly such as Nirmala Chettri, Deepa BK, Jalpa Bhusal and Kamala BK also echoed that CSOs related law should be very unrestrictive and friendly that enables them to facilitate in the process of nation building.

Ekraj Biswakarma, Chief, District Coordination Committee (DCC), Rupandehi highlighted that DCC should be given the sole authority and role to look after the activities of CSOs at the local level. Multiple authorities to assess their activities will only create confusion and ambiguity between CSO and government, he told in the event.

The representatives from Bar Association, FNJ and CSO leaders argued that the government has been very cynical towards CSOs in recent past. It doubts our intention and alleged us of dancing to the tune of donor and funding agency. We have been contributing in the nation building and restoring democracy but we have been put under the scanner citing several reasons.

During the discussion, the Civil Society Sustainability Index (CSOSI), 2017 was also unveiled by the Social Development Minister of Provincial-5 and briefly discussed about the findings.

Rima BC, the Chair Person of the event, thanked the participants for their valuable participation. She said that the CSOs are pillar of democracy. The robust CSOs are building blocks of any democratic society. They should work hand in hand and contribute in ameliorating the situation of beleaguered citizen

On 22ndApril 2019 morning, the project team organized a courtesy call meeting with the Chief Minister Shanker Pokhrel of the Province-5 in Butwal. The meeting was a great opportunity to lobby and advocate evolving CSO issues with the Chief Minister. The discussion focused on the present challenges and some clauses in the Social Organization Bill, 2075 that will create hurdle in the operation of CSOs across the country. Chief Minister acknowledged the role and contribution of CSOs and assured that he is also in favor of freedom of association. During the meeting The Landscape Report on CSO of Nepal along with the CSO Sustainability Index, 2017 was handed over to the Chief Minister. A team comprising Kedar Khadka, Poshta KC along with Deepak Pokhrel visited the Chief Minister at his quarter.