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General News of Friday, 5 April 2019


NGOs need legal environment to make profit to sponsor projects

The Fourth National Philanthropy Summit 2019 has been launched in Accra, which called on government to create an enabling legal environment for philanthropic organisations to make profit to support their projects.

The two-day Summit, organised by STAR-Ghana Foundation, was attended by a number of stakeholders in the philanthropy sector, to find ways of making them thrive in the contemporary environment.

Dr Ben Ocra, the Director, Ghana Philanthropy Forum, in an interview with the Ghana News Agency, said grants for Ghana, being a middle-income economy, had dwindled with some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) finding it difficult to get funding for their programmes.

“We are the third force and the ones who fill the development gaps of government and, therefore, NGOs need to evolve themselves to be able to walk on their two legs,” he said.

“What we have currently is the social enterprise policy, which was developed by the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the Social Enterprise Ghana way back.”

He appealed to the Government to help expedite work on the drafting of legal framework for proper classification of NGOs and, for that matter, the philanthropy sector.

He said this would help them establish an endowment fund to put aside some of their profits to make them sustainable.

Dr Ocra said the Social Welfare Department, which supervised the activities of the NGOs, was itself ill-resourced and could not assist in philanthropic work.

“Sometimes social welfare officials in the districts need to be given money for transportation by the NGOs before they could assist them to renew their documents at the Registrar General’s Department, which is not a good thing,” he said.

He called on the Government to adequately resource the Department and build the capacity of staff to enable them to implement their mandate effectively.

Dr Ocra recommended for reforms by clearly defining the conceptual terms of charity, philanthropy and social enterprises and properly categorize NGOs.

He called for clear guidelines and rule-based systems to administer all aspects of tax exemptions and database systems for the process.

He said government must periodically engage the NGOs and sensitise stakeholders in the philanthropic work on the tax laws and application to satisfy filing requirements and reporting.