Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on CSO Issues in Law Making Process and Way Forward

The overwhelming participants of the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue uttered that the government has been trying to impose restrictive laws against civil society organizations (CSO) in the name of the registration and renewal process across the county. They have also strongly argued CSO's positive contribution in the nation building process. Participants were vocal during the Multi-Stakeholder Dialogue on CSO Problems, Issues, Law Making Process and Way Forward organized by GoGo Foundation on October 23, 2019 at hotel Himalaya, Lalitpur with the financial support of FHI360.

The event offered a space to bring the CSO leaders, academician, senior government officials and CSO and media representatives to discuss about the issue and challenges post constitution promulgation and federalization of the country. The Program Manager, Poshta KC, welcomed the participants while the Executive Director (ED), Kedar Khadka, GoGo Foundation highlighted the rational of the event and hoped that the program will come up with concrete way forward to fix the issues of CSOs across the country.

Contrary to the past pattern, the ED urged the participants to express their views and opinion on the issues and challenges faced by the CSOs based on the experience gained while working in different context and setting. Soon after, the participants in common voice said that it is very sad that government has been trying to dictate CSOs in the veil of regulation, renewal and registration process.

Saroj Baniya, the President of National Youth Council argued renewable process has to pass through different four government entities like Ward, Municipality, Tax Office and DAO. This is just intended to create unnecessary hassles and restricting us to work. Couple of participants lamented that they have to butter the bureaucrats to get their work done. Unnecessary bureaucratic hassles, needless monitoring visit, multiple tax system are some of the measures adopted by government to discourage working CSO across the country, said the participants. Bishnupukar Shrestha said CSO are the 'permanent opposition' with a function to caution the government for its wrong move

This was followed by the presentation by former Vice-Chairman, National Planning Commission, Dr Jagadish Chandra Pokhrel. In the presentation, he talked in length about how CSOs emerged in Nepal and what is its present condition. He comprehensively highlighted how CSOs have been contributing in overall development of the nation and how it has stand by the leaders to overthrow the autocratic regime. But, sadly its role and contribution has been pushed to the backburner and question is being raised about its role. This is an insult to CSOs across the country, he lamented. In response to the grievances tabled by the participants, he suggested three way forwards- Exit, Voice and Loyal. Given the present situation, the CSO can either exit and ceased to exist, or raise voice against the oppressions or pledged loyal to the leaders for their existence. Among these, the second option that is 'VOICE' is the most democratic and universally accepted principle to sustain CSOs across the globe, he recommended.

Representing government participation, the Deputy Director, Dipendra Pandit, Social Welfare Council said that he, on behalf of his organization, one door policy is the best available solution to respond to the growing challenges of CSOs across the country. He is saddened by some self centered officials who tried to undermine the role and contribution of the CSOs across the country.

The other participants who spoke on the occasion included Daya Sagar Shrestha, Dr Chiranjibi Bhattrai, Tikaram Dhakal, Ram Bhattarai, Sanju Singh Biswakarma, Narendra Paswan, Dr Ramji Bogati and Nishu Thing.

In the closing session of dialogue, Ramesh Bista General Secretary from FNJ said that government and his wings are not positive towards media and civil society's role and action, ultimately his aims to control and shrink the space of CSO and media by introducing the any new laws and by laws, so it is needed that CSO and Media have to work together to enhance the democracy, rule of law, freedom of expression and association across the country, he suggested.

As a concluding remark, the General Secretary, Ram Prasad Subedi, NFN said that government soon start thinking to develop one door system to facilitate the CSO and its issues- from renewal to registration. He also urged the government which is in the process of finalizing many laws, to draft the law in line with the international standard. At the same time, he said CSOs should be divided along the party lines and remain united for the interest of the people and nation.