DO WE NEED TO EMPOWER SOCIAL WELFARE DEPARTMENT SINDH?
Having a proper mechanism to monitor activities of NGOs and sufficient staff at Taluka level in all the districts of Sindh, Social Welfare Department had failed to keep an eye on all the NGOs of Sindh due to hurdles of many registration authorities such as Industrial Ministry, SECP, SWD, etc. Social has not only office set-up along with Man-power but also social mobilizers such as Auxiliary Workers, Child Care Workers, Assistants to combat any hazardous. The prime aim of this department is to provide welfare at grass root level as they have capability too; however, the ambiguity of registration Authority has always troubled the general public, law enforcement agencies and even the controlling Authority. Thousands of NGOs have been registered with various ministries and departments of the Sindh government, including the departments of social welfare under the Voluntary Agencies (Registration & Control) Ordinance-1961, Industries and Cooperative Societies (Societies Registration Act-1860). Of them, many fall under cooperative societies. However, they do not have mandate for & mechanism to monitor the activities of Charitable Organization; even though, they haven’t proper skills & desired capability with the degrees of Sociology or Social Work to monitor behavior of society & the working of NGOs. This creates trouble in data collection; when enquired, the NGOs deny submitting data because they don’t fall under domain of Social Welfare and it paves the ways for black sheeps to misuse the charity funds by getting registration from many departments at the same time.
The social Welfare Department has a proper mechanism and officers to observe the activities of NGOs under the 1961 and 1962 Act of Voluntary Agencies. Many NGO officials have come to know about the wave of tough vigilance and decided against getting their organisations registered under the social welfare department. If they get their NGOs registered by the department, they will have to submit an annual audit report, the annual renewal fee of Rs2,000 and an election report of office bearers after every two years at the office of the department’s Assistant Director at their concerned Taluka. In addition, all activities carried out under the name of the NGO will be closely monitored by the relevant Assistant Director. Such steps prevent the misuse of donations and other related funds.
In light of these concerns, a good step has been taken recently, The Sindh Charities Registration and Regulation Bill, 2019 had been passed by the Provincial Assembly of Sindh on 22nd November, 2019 and assented to by the Governor of Sindh on 02nd December, 2019 is hereby published as an Act of the Legislature of Sindh.
The Government of Sindh has got passed a legislation bill to regulate charity activities in the province. The law will provide a legal basis for action against the organizations involved in criminal or political activities while operating under the veil of charity. Sindh Charities Act 2019 will regulate charity activities including those donating and those receiving donations for charity.
The minister, adviser or special assistant to the chief minister on Social Welfare Department will be the chairperson of the commission and in his absence, it may be any other person nominated by the CM that has cleared that Charities will only be registered under Charities Act. The provincial government will designate one of the Director-Generals ranked at Grade 20 from within the Social Welfare Department as the director-general of the commission. The deputed official will also work as the secretary of the commission – responsible for the administration and implementation of decisions. According to the law, the commission will maintain public trust and confidence in charities. It will register, regulate, and sanction fundraising of the charities.
The law makes it necessary to register the charity organizations, promoters and the fundraising campaigns. The donors would have to inform about their source of income, the draft of the law suggests. Sindh Charity Commission and Charity Registration Authority will also be established under the law. The draft of the bill also suggests depositing all donations above Rs 50,000 in banks. A charity organization, trustees will be liable to imposition of a fine up to one million over violation of the law, the draft proposes. After enactment of the Sindh Charities Act 2019, action will be launched against unregistered non-profit organizations. In the bill, there is a provision for the creation of a commission, titled, ‘Charities, Registration and Regulation Commission’ which will have 12 members, including two MPAs nominated by the Sindh Assembly speaker. The commission will discharge its functions, exercise its powers and conduct its proceedings in the prescribed manner. The charity organizations will be bound to keep a detailed record of their all financial transactions and the charity amount and donations will not be utilized for any business or political objective. All financial and social activities of a charity organization will be monitored and the Sindh Charity Commission could cancel the registration of a charity over violation of the law.
Raza Muhammad Memon
Social Welfare Department, Hyderabad