NGO Legislation and Structures in Malta

 

This page on the Inizjamed website is meant to provide information about NGO legislation in Malta.

It is not an official site of the NGO Law Working Group.

 
 

Links to some not-for-profit organizations in Malta:

Resources

 
 
 
 

Immoral’ NGOs can be refused state recognition
Michaela Muscat

 

Malta Today • 31 July 2005

 

Malta’s first commissioner for NGOs will be able to prevent organisations from being recognised by the state “on moral grounds”, refusing registration for organisations which are pro-abortion, amongst others.


This statement, uttered by lawyer Max Ganado at the launch of the draft Voluntary Organisations Act on Friday, raised a few eyebrows as he outlined other functions of the new commissioner who will offer guidance and advice as well as relevant monitoring.
 

The idea of the commissioner being appointed by the Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity however did not go down too well with all of the organisations. Due to the sensitivity of the office there are suggestions for the commissioner to undergo the same selection process in parliament like the ombudsman.
 

Minister Dolores Cristina hailed the White Paper as a “tangible structure which aims to help the credibility of voluntary organisations” and that the proposed legislation “will recognise and further strengthen the sector while providing support and various privileges.”
 

More importantly for the often fund-starved organisations, their recognition will mean that access to the fund and to international and European projects will be easier. Moreover this will safeguard the interests of clients and the public at large since the organisations will automatically become more transparent and responsible for their actions.
 

The Voluntary Organisations Act aims to regulate the sector in a more coordinated manner, proposing to “deal with the existing lacunae confronting the sector.”
 

Amendments to the civil code dealing with the concept of legal personality will also be proposed. Members of the executive will no longer be liable or legally responsible for their organisation’s actions. The act outlines the functions of the commissioner, the set-up of the Voluntary Organisations Fund and the role of the National Council for the Voluntary Sector.
 

Representatives of NGOs welcomed the White Paper, but they remarked that the lack of formal consultation regarding the White Paper which concerns them was “at best strange.”
 

Adrian Grima of Inizjamed liked the idea of presenting the law “in an open way and the idea of an open consultation meeting in September.” He said he believed that it was a good idea not to delve into great detail when it comes to defining what constitutes a voluntary organisation especially because it avoids bureaucracy.
 

Although it highlights the importance of NGOs becoming more transparent and accountable, the White Paper is careful not to burden small NGOs with administrative work. The larger organisations will automatically be dealing with larger sums so they will be expected to hand in more intricate reports.
 

However Grima remarked that “vagueness also has its negative aspects. You can have strange situations like a government agency being eligible to benefit from privileges which are normally afforded to NGOs.”


The NGOs who spent months researching NGO law complained that “we are not sure on how closely they looked at the NGO law working group.”
 

The working group proposed to involve civil society in important decision-making bodies like the Broadcasting Authority and MCESD.
 

When asked by the member of the floor about these proposals, the minister and Ganado skirted the issue about access to media being imperative to voluntary organisations.
 

“A recognised NGO is giving a contribution to the country so it should also have the right to use the resources that they need. If the government really values the work of NGOS they should have access to public service media.”
 

NGOS have to get their act together and figure out a way to influence this legislation which ultimately will define the framework that they operate in.

michaela@newsworksltd.com

 
 
 
 

Cabinet approves NGOs White Paper

Fiona Galea Debono

 

The Times, July 21, 2005

The Cabinet has approved a White Paper containing legislative proposals "intended to help the voluntary sector to establish itself on a stronger footing".

The proposals were made by Family and Social Solidarity Minister Dolores Cristina.

The White Paper and proposed legislation will be presented for public consultation on July 29 with the consultation period extending to the end of October, the ministry said.

So far, there has been no regulatory framework to protect voluntary organisations, their clients, or society. The regulation of voluntary organisations would ensure better accountability and transparency - an important aspect, particularly with regard to organisations involved in economic activities.

"It will now be possible for the sector to operate in a professional manner, backed by the legal support of the law, and to benefit from certain privileges. Simultaneously, the public can be assured of the necessary safeguards and protection afforded by systems that are transparent and accountable," Ms Cristina said.

The White Paper gives the voluntary sector, civil society and other interested parties the opportunity to put forward their views before the Bill is debated in Parliament. It incorporates many of the thoughts and ideas of groups and individuals who had presented their suggestions and concerns to the ministry.

User-friendly, non-technical language has been used as much as possible in the drafting of the legislation so that it will be easily understood by non-legal persons, the ministry stressed.

"Malta is fortunate to have a very active voluntary sector that is involved in wide-ranging efforts that benefit society in different ways. The work is diverse and may include that of a purely social nature, sports, culture and the environment as well as organisations involved in particular interests and hobbies," Ms Cristina said.

"It has become increasingly important that these organisations be granted legal status that will support them, as well as protect them," she continued. A legislative operational structure and the appointment of a commissioner should serve to establish a specific focus on matters affecting the voluntary sector so that solutions may be found in a coordinated manner, the minister said.

By attaining such legal status, organisations would be able to enjoy various benefits, not least of which is access to participation in international and EU projects.

The adoption of a form of legal status, although encouraged, remains optional, because a lot depends on the nature and structure of the individual entities, or groups, Ms Cristina explained.

The central principle remains that of assisting the voluntary sector in recognition of the valuable work that is carried out.

The sector, however, will still fall under the purview of supervisory authorities in the interest of the public, she pointed out.

The ministry is inviting a representative from every NGO to attend the launch of the White Paper at the ministry in Valletta on July 29 at 3 p.m. Bookings must be made on 2590 3119 by July 26.

 

 
 
 
 

Launch of the draft NGO White Paper on 29 July 2005

Il-Ħamis, 21 ta' Lulju 2005 10:14

This note is being sent to all those NGOs and individuals who showed interest in the visit and the seminar of Mr Douglas Rutzen, President ICNL, which was organised by the NGO Legislation Working Group and sponsored by The American Centre last March.

The Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity, the Hon. Dolores Cristina, has announced the launch of the draft NGO White Paper on 29 July 2005.  The NGO Legislation Working Group has prepared a summary of Mr Doug Rutzen's seminar which we are disseminating so that NGOs can refresh their memories about the important issues to look out for when the draft is published.

The NGOLWG suggests that as soon as NGOs have the draft to hand they meet up individually and in sectorial groups to discuss the draft in the light of what we have already prepared (i.e. the Memorandum which was presented to the Minister last July) and what Mr Doug Rutzen has talked about.  The NGOLWG will then organise a meeting of NGOs to put together their comments and to create constructive discussion about the various issues involved.

The NGOLWG will try and keep in touch with those NGOs that are on its listing.  However, if you can further disseminate this information, please feel free to do so. I would be grateful if you could cc me on ngolwg@di-ve.com, so that others can be added to the list.

If you do not have a copy of the Memorandum or if you wish to contact the NGOLWG for any reason, please email us at: ngolwg@di-ve.com

Regards,
Patricia Camilleri

____________________________
 

Working Group Members
Ms Doris Bingley - National Council of Women
Ms Christine Borg - Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors
Ms Patricia Camilleri - The Archaeological Society, Malta (Chair)
Ms Kay Gretchen - Malta Centre for Human Development
Ms Claudia Taylor-East - SOS Malta 
Ms Mary Grace Vella - Moviment Graffitti

 

Summary of Presentation by Douglas Rutzen

 

“Challenges of NGO Legislation” Seminar

 March 2005, St. Aloysius Sixth Form Hall

 

Civil society organisations play a vital role: contributing to political reform, social development, employment generation and many other aspects of a society’s quality of life. Europe has seen a resurgence of civil society in the past 15 years, underpinned by legal reform. However, as Rutzen pointed out throughout his address, the process of legal reform is long and complicated. There are a number of strategic issues, the resolution of which should be the result of discussion among all the stakeholders. Although each country must decide on the model(s) most appropriate for its circumstances, ICNL’s wealth of experience and accumulated experience can be a valuable resource.

 

Voluntary organisations’ importance to societies’ quality of life has long been recognized. What is less well known to the general public is their economic impact: non-profits provide 4% of total employment in Europe, 8.3% in Ireland; 1 of 7 new jobs in France are created by nonprofits and 1 of 8 new jobs in Germany; expenditures over 1.25 billion euros. In light of these figures, it is not surprising that more often than not, it is finance ministers who initiate the process of instituting legal frameworks governing and enabling civil society organisations. The European Commission has clearly stated its support for such frameworks:

       

     The importance of having clear, positive legal and fiscal frameworks for

     voluntary organisations and foundations to work in cannot be underestimated.

     Communication from the Commission: Promoting the Role of Voluntary

    Organisations and Foundations in Europe (1997)

 

Legislation regulating civil society organisations can be seen as a web: a set of interconnecting laws of different types and amount of detail that govern and support organisations at different levels. Association or framework law, which covers forms of organizations, registration and basic rules, is the first layer of legislation. These laws typically contain very little detail about benefits or accountability requirements. The main issues at this level are the following: which forms are to be permitted, and how are they to be defined; permitted scope; allowable mixture of private and public benefit; who can be founders (citizens, foreigners, government?); method of establishment (self-declaration to formal registration); extent of detailed regulations for establishment, internal governance, accountability; type of economic activities allowed; freedom to engage in public policy activities, regardless of benefits received; termination and dissolution requirements; and which governing body is to implement law? Whichever model is chosen, it should be administrative, apolitical and inexpensive. The key to all forms is the principle of common purpose and non-distribution of funds to members, employees, or board members beyond reimbursement or salary. Another basic principle, as stated in Article 11 of the European Convention, is the right to associate without becoming a legal entity: i.e. optional registration.

 

The second layer of legislation deals with Public Benefit status. The first issue is: what constitutes a public benefit activity? Ideally, the list of activities should be broad and easy to amend. A second set of issues relates to the requirements for acquiring that status: for governance, activities, distribution of assets, and documentation. Of prime importance is the issue of who decides whether an organization qualifies. Whatever the model chosen (e.g. commission, ministry), the process should be “as apolitical, fair and as transparent as possible.”  Another key set of issues relates to the benefits for which such organizations are eligible: whether only Public Benefit organizations may receive government funding; and which benefits, and related requirements, can be obtained (public collection, other fund-raising, tax exemptions and incentives for philanthropy. Some of these benefits will be dealt with in detail in a third layer of legislation, primarily that of tax legislation. Timing is an issue of critical importance: decisions regarding benefits must closely follow those for requirements; otherwise there will be no incentive for organizations to engage in publicly beneficial activities. Also, requirements should be tied to, and be proportionate to, the level of benefits received. Finally, requirements for accountability/transparency should depend on the size of the organization, with an external audit required for only the largest organizations.  

 

All of these issues should be decided on the basis of discussion among the stakeholders. The resulting network of legislation does not come into existence all at once, but evolves over a period of years. It is helpful for the voluntary organizations to network within the country, both with other organizations and the government, and in the region, in order to build awareness of the processes involved. Implementation depends on political processes and goodwill. Legislation by itself will not cure all problems.

 

Although each country must choose its own models to adopt, ICNL can be a valuable resource. As a result of its years of experience, it has accumulated a treasure trove of information on all aspects of not-for-profit law, which it puts at the disposal of local experts in a variety of ways.

 

 
 

Nota mingħand Mario Mifsud ta' Żminijietna u l-Għaqda Malta - Kuba:

 

"Waqt il-laqgħa ta' Djalogu li saret fl-4 ta' Mejju, 2005, Mario Mifsud  ippreżenta lill-Priministru kopja tal-Press Release tas-17 ta' Diċembru, 2004, maħruġa minn 17-il għaqda mhux tal-Gvern. F'din il-press release dawn l-NGOs appellaw lill-Gvern sabiex jippubblika l-White Paper dwar l-għaqdiet mhux tal-Gvern. Huwa qal fl-intervent tiegħu li l-White Paper għadha sa llum ma ġietx ippubblikata, u li l-ministru Cristina qiegħda tieħu l-pariri ta' Douglas Rutzen li anki nġab Malta mill-ambaxxata Amerikana ghal dan il-għan u mhux qiegħda tagħti kas biżżejjed tal-platform ta' l-NGOs.

Rigward il-bżonnijiet ta' l-NGOs huwa qal li hu jħoss li dawn jistgħu jkunu spjegati f'żewġ punti:

  • Li jkun hemm skemi ta' ghajnuna sabiex dawn l-NGOs ikollhom access ghall-media tal-massa: gazzetti, radju u televixin

  • Li l-iskemi ta' secondment minn mal-gvern għal ma' l-NGOs ikunu applikati b'mod ġust u li dawn l-iskemi jkunu estiżi għas-settur privat

Il-Prim Ministru, fir-risposta tiegħu, qal li l-Ministeru tal-Ministru Dolores Cristina jqassam mad-LM900,000 lil NGOs fuq skemi approvati u li fil-fatt il-leġislazzjoni ta' l-NGOs se tkun tikkomprendi 3 liġijiet separati:

  • dwar l-NGOs infushom

  • dwar il-Fondazzjonijiet

  • dwar is-Soċjetà Ċivili

Huwa qal li ma jistax jintrabat dwar data tal-pubblikazzjoni tal-White Paper li qal li bħalissa qiegħda tiġi eżaminata mill-Avukat Ġenerali."

 

6.5.05

 
 
 
 

NGO Legislation Working Group

Email: ngolwg@di-ve.com - Mob: 99452980 - Fax: 21 386742

 

Public Seminar on Tuesday 1 March 2005

for all NGOs at St. Aloysius College Sixth Form at 6.00 pm

 

Special Guest: Mr Douglas Rutzen,

President of the International Centre for Non-Profit Law

 

The Challenges of NGO Legislation

 

The Non-Governmental Organisation Legislation Working Group has invited the President of the International Centre for Non-Profit Law (ICNL) Mr Douglas Rutzen to visit Malta.  His visit is being sponsored by the US Embassy.

 

During his visit a public seminar will be organised on Tuesday 1 March 2005 for all NGOs at St. Aloysius, Sixth Form at 6 pm. The aims of the seminar will be:

 

  • Informing NGOs to be better informed of actual benefits and challenges of operating within a legal framework.

  • Informing NGOs of resources available from ICNL and European affiliate, how to use to best advantage.

  • Stimulating interest in networking, transparency and accountability.

 

Composition of NGO Legislation working Group:

 

Ms Doris Bingley – National Council of Women

Ms Christine Borg – Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors

Ms Patricia Camilleri (Chair) – The Archaeological Society, Malta

Fr Pierre Grech Marguerat – Centre for Faith and Justice

Ms Kay Gretchen – Malta Centre for Human Development

Ms Claudia Taylor-East – SOS Malta

Ms Mary Grace Vella – Moviment Graffitti

 

‘The International Centre for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) strives to create a world where civil society, in all its forms, can freely develop and participate in public decisions. In pursuit of that goal, ICNL’s programmes and research focus on promoting an enabling legal environment for civil society and public participation worldwide’ (www.icnl.org )

 

NGOs and individuals interested in attending the seminar are to send an email to

ngolwg@di-ve.com to be kept informed.   

 

7 February 2005

 

 
 
 
 

NGOs 'an engine of economic development'

Vanessa Macdonald, The Times, Tuesday, March 1, 2005


An American expert on laws for non-profit making organisations will today outline some of the legislative options the government could consider during a seminar organised by entities lobbying for a Maltese law.

The seminar is organised by the Non-Governmental Organisation Legislation Working Group, founded by 20 organisations in January last year to lobby for NGO legislation. It requested assistance from the American Embassy, which organised the visit by Douglas Rutzen, president of the International Centre for Not-For-Profit Law in Washington DC.

The centre, itself a non-profit entity, was set up in 1992 and offers technical assistance in drafting not-for-profit law, so far to over 90 countries from China to Mexico. Mr Rutzen is at present working with EU accession countries.

"The other accession countries have a framework legislation governing the life-cycle of NGOs. They are now refining or improving it, with the focus on things like tax benefits, government funding and self-regulation, for example," Mr Rutzen told The Times.

The US has a complicated web of regulations: To become a legal entity, a non-profit organisation incorporates at state level but primary regulation occurs through the tax system.

Mr Rutzen will be explaining international practices and will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

"The framework needs various layers. It needs to ensure that it allows non-profit organisations to form and operate, making them legal entities which could have limited liability.

"From my discussions with the working group it appears that you have people involved who could be personally liable for the debts - which could have a chilling effect on the sector.

"We found from our work in the accession countries that the finance ministries are often the primary champions on NGO law reform. It may seem rather curious for them to push for tax exemptions. But we do find that the non-profit sector is an engine of economic development and employment, also taking some of the burden off the government's shoulders."

The law would also help non-profits to tap into funds. Mr Rutzen said that donors prefer the recipient to be a legal entity as this cuts risk of misappropriation.

However, Mr Rutzen stressed that it was important to remember the wide spectrum of organisations that a law would cover, some of which are merely a group of members with similar interests.

"In the European Convention, you have a right to form an association to carry out any private activity or publicly beneficial activity, whether this is a chess club, a sailing club or a humanitarian organisation. For those that are not dealing with the public in any meaningful way, we find that accountability is usually limited to having a statute and an annual general meeting. That is basically also what you would find in the framework legislation.

"So, for example, you would be able to register as a legal entity. However, if you want to get tax benefits, then you would have to comply with the accountability requirements linked to those benefits. This would include giving information about your programmes and their impact, financial reports and so on.

"There are also activity-based organisations that provide day care centres or work with the disabled, for example. Typically those would already be subject to licensing requirements to meet standards that apply to both profit-making and non-profit making.

"And then there is fundraising, which usually has accountability requirements, again whether it is carried out by profit-making or non-profit making organisations. And another aspect is self-regulation, often based on the model of a central bureau, essentially a voluntary organisation of fundraising groups, which regulates them - sometimes without government involvement."

Mr Rutzen said that the important thing is that the accountability requirements would not be imposed on organisations that simply want to become a legal entity but not to fund-raise. Entities would be given the choice of whether to opt into the law or not and many might not even register as legal entities, he said.

One of the big mistakes that other countries have made is to come up with blanket regulation, which covers all the entities, he said.

"There is usually a happy medium between the enabling environment and the accountability requirements."

"NGOs become worried about the impact of the law if it does not meet their needs. Our experience is that they support the law if they are actively engaged in the development of its principles," he warned.

Experience had also shown that it was not wise to impose too many restrictions on the operation of NGOs - or of donors - such as trying to establish a cap on overhead expenses, which is considered to be unworkable.

The Non-Governmental Organisation Legislation Working Group drew up a memo to the government last June on its proposals for the law. Kay Gretchen, a member of the working group, said the EU insists on an organisation having a legal status before it will approve its partnership in funding projects.

"We need to build our capacities and to look beyond our borders to do so and improve our best practices," she said.

"We would welcome the government's involvement."

The seminar is being held at the St Aloysius Sixth Form hall in Birkirkara today at 6 p.m.

Some key figures
A survey by the John Hopkins University found that in Germany, the non-profit sector accounts for 3.7 per cent of total employment and 10 per cent of total service employment. It provides 40 per cent of hospital patient days and 60 per cent of residential care facilities.

In Ireland, over eight per cent of employment is in the non-profit sector.

In France, 80 per cent of those with sporting interests belong to non-profit clubs.

In the UK, all colleges are run by non-profits, as are 22 per cent of primary and elementary schools.

Operating expenditures of non-profit organisations represent 4.8 per cent of the UK's GNP.

 
     
 
 
 

Il-Liġi dwar l-NGOs dalwaqt issir realtà”

Norbert Bugeja

 

Il-Ġensillum, is-Sibt, 19 ta’ Frar, 2005

 

 

 

 

 

 

Il-Ministru għall-Familja u s-Solidarjetà Soċjali Dolores Cristina infurmat lill-Working Group li d-draft tal-liġi l-ġdida dwar l-NGOs u l-white paper dalwaqt ikunu ippubblikati. Għalkemm ħadd għadu ma ra d-draft tal-liġi l-ġdida dwar l-NGOs, ingħatajna x’nifhmu li  din tinkludi l-parti l-kbira tal-punti li tressqu fil-Memorandum ippreżentat lill-Ministru s-sena l-oħra. Aħna ġejna infurmati minn sorsi ta’ min jorbot fuqhom li l-liġi dwar l-NGOs dalwaqt issir realtà.” (Fir-ritratt, Patricia Camilleri u Douglas Rutzen waqt is-seminar fl-1 ta' Marzu, 2005)

 

Hekk stqarret Patricia Camilleri, chairperson tal-working group fuq il-leġislazzjoni għall-għaqdiet mhux governattivi (NGOs) mistoqsija minn IL-ĠENSillum dwar l-aħħar żviluppi fil-proċess ta’ leġislazzjoni.

 

Il-liġi dwar l-NGOs ġiet iddraftjata xi snin ilu u ilha xhur sħaħ tistenna l-proċess ta’ pubblikazzjoni. L-NGO Legislation Working Group twaqqaf fil-bidu ta’ l-2004 minn grupp ta’ għaqdiet non-governattivi lokali. L-għan tiegħu kien li jagħmel proposti lill-gvern dwar il-leġislazzjoni fuq l-NGOs u biex jinkoraġġixxi lill-Gvern sabiex jippubblika white paper biex tkun tista’ ssir aktar diskussjoni.

 

“Hu probabbli li l-NGOs ser ikollhom jirreġistraw irwieħhom. Din ir-reġistrazzjoni tirrikjedi ċerti responsabbiltajiet fil-qasam tal-kontabilità tagħhom lejn il-membri u lejn il-pubbliku in ġenerali. Probabbilment ser ikun hemm ukoll klawsola ta’ opt out li biha l-NGO’s ikollhom l-għażla li ma jirreġistrawx irwieħhom” kompliet tgħid Camilleri.

 

Din il-gazzetta talbet ukoll il-kummenti ta’ Fr Pierre Grech Marguerat, membru ieħor tal-working group. Grech Marguerat qal li l-issue dwar meta ser tgħaddi leġislazzjoni għall-NGO’s kienet ukoll mistoqsija li qamet matul il-konferenza.

 

“Sfortunatament issa ilna aktar minn 14-il sena nitkellmu dwar il-bżonn ta’ struttura legali għall-NGO’s. Sar ħafna diskors, qegħdin fis-sena 2005 u għadna mingħajr liġi. M’għandniex qafas legali li jindirizza l-NGO’s u dan joħloq ħafna diffikultajiet, per eżempju, biex bħala NGO’s jieħdu l-fondi mill-Ewropa, fost affarijiet oħra.”

 

Intant, Camilleri sostniet li reġistru ta’ l-NGO’s se jtejjeb ħafna l-perċezzjoni ta’ l-NGOs, u d-dmirijiet ġodda tagħhom taħt din il-liġi jgħinuhom biex itejbu l-kwalità tas-servizz tagħhom.

 

“Flimkien mad-dmirijiet ta’ reġistrazzjoni li naħsbu li se jkunu jinkludu diversi livelli ta’ kontabilità, se jkun hemm ukoll il-benefiċċju tar-rikonoxximent kemm mill-pubbliku kif ukoll mill-gvern. Hemm barra hemm mijiet ta’ NGOs immexxija minn nies li jagħtu ħinhom u saħħithom għal kawża li jemmnu fiha, u dan jagħmluh b’xejn.”

 

“Óafna minn dawn in-nies saru esperti fl-oqsma tagħhom anke jekk m’għandhomx kwalifiki akkademiċi fl-istess qasam. Dawn in-nies huma riżors kbir li l-pajjiż jista’ juża, u jidher ċar li bħalissa mhux qiegħed juża l-vantaġġ sħiħ li dawn jistgħu joffru.”

 

Camilleri saħqet li l-għaqdiet ċivili għandhom jingħataw rikonoxximent konkret tal-kontribuzzjoni importanti li qegħdin jagħtu – mhux neċessarjament b’modi finanzjarji imma permezz ta’ konsultazzjoni serja u regolari magħhom.

 

“L-NGOs għandhom ikunu fost il-ħoloq li permezz tagħhom il-politiċi jżommu kuntatt mar-realtà. Óafna drabi l-NGOs ikunu dawk li jkunu fl-iebes tax-xogħol u jiltaqgħu mal-problemi u l-irqaqat ta’ kull qasam li jaħdmu fih. Iżda l-fatti huma li ftit wisq mill-NGOs huma ikkunsidrati mill-Gvern bħala organizzazzjonijiet li ta’ min jagħtihom widen. In-numru ta’ dawn għandu jikber permezz tal-leġislazzjoni l-ġdida. Nemmen li hemm mod kif jinstemgħu l-vuċijiet ta’ kulħadd u l-Liġi l-ġdida għandha tgħin biex dan isir realtà,” qalet Camilleri.

 

Fr Grech Marguerat żied jgħid li qafas legali għall-NGOs ikun jfisser rikonoxximent kemm fis-soċjetà Maltija kif ukoll fuq livell internazzjonali. “Hu importanti li NGO tkun rikonoxxuta, mhux qisu xi ħadd qam filgħodu u waqqaf għaqda, mingħajr accountability ta’ xejn. Li jkollna issa qafas legali jkun ifisser rikonoxximent fuq livell lokali u internazzjonali” saħaq Grech Marguerat.

 

Camilleri ikkummentat ukoll dwar l-istedina li l-working group għamel lis-Sur Douglas Rutzen, President taċ-Ċentru Internazzjonali dwar il-liġi non-profit. Rutzen, li ż-żjara tiegħu ġiet sponsorjata mill-Ambaxxata ta’ l-Istati Uniti f’Malta, ser jindirizza seminar pubbliku bit-tema “L-isfidi tal-leġislazzjoni dwar l-NGOs”.

 

Dan is-seminar se jsir nhar it-Tlieta l-1 ta’ Marzu fis-Sala tas-Sixth Form tal-Kulleġġ San Alwiġi f’Birkirkara fis-6pm. Rutzen għandu esperjenza enormi fil-qasam tal-leġislazzjoni dwar l-NGOs u żgur li se jittratta l-kwistjonijiet ewlenin li jiffurmaw il-bażi ta’ din il-leġislazzjoni. L-NGOs kollha huma mistiedna sabiex jattendu” qalet Camilleri.

 

Min jixtieq jattendi hu mitlub sabiex jibbukkja post fuq l-email ngolwg@di-ve.com jew inkella billi jċempel fuq 9945 2980.

 
     
 
 
 

Press Release 17/12/04
NGOs appeal for publication of White Paper


A group of 17 Non-Governmental Organisations launched an appeal to Government for the publication of the NGO White Paper.

The NGOs, namely Moviment Graffitti, Kopin, Friends of the Earth (Malta),
Nature Trust, Inizjamed, Malta - Cuba Society, Ceratonia Foundation,
Association for Men's Rights, The Arts Collective, Malta Organic Agriculture
Movement, Zminijietna, The Astronomical Society of Malta, Third World Group,
Amnesty International (Malta Group), Gaia Foundation, Malta Gay Rights Movement, and Malta Council of Disabled Persons, said:
 

"We strongly appeal to Government that the NGO White Paper is issued at the
earliest and that the consultation process should be at least 8 weeks long.
It is very important that Government takes heed of feedback from all NGOs
who submit their views, as different NGOs may have different needs and
concerns which are to be taken into account in order that NGO Legislation
may be comprehensive and truly representative."

"In view of the fact that no NGO currently has legal status,
Non-Governmental Organisations are facing various difficultues. To give two
common examples, NGOs cannot benefit from bank guarantees, and problems are
also being faced when applying for EU funding for projects."

"We also believe that rights such as freedom of association and freedom of
expression should be guaranteed through NGO legislation, and should not be
dependent on whether an NGO enjoys legal status."
 

Mike Briguglio
f/ Signatory NGOs


Moviment Graffitti

Kopin

Friends of the Earth (Malta)

Nature Trust
Inizjamed

Malta - Cuba Society

Ceratonia Foundation

Association for Men's Rights

The Arts Collective

Malta Organic Agriculture Movement
Żminijietna

The Astronomical Society of Malta

Third World Group

Amnesty International (Malta Group)

Gaia Foundation

Malta Gay Rights Movement
Malta Council of Disabled Persons

 

 
 
 
  Stqarrija Stampa 17/12/04
 

Għaqdiet mhux Governattivi jappellaw għall-pubblikazzjoni tal-White Paper

Grupp ta' 17-il għaqda mhux governattiva (NGOs) appellaw lill-Gvern sabiex jippubblika l-White Paper dwar l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi.

L-għaqdiet mhux governattivi, jiġifieri Moviment Graffitti, Kopin, Friends of the Earth (Malta), Nature Trust, Inizjamed, Għaqda Malta - Kuba, Fondazzjoni Ceratonia, Għaqda Drittijiet ta' l-Irġiel, The Arts Collective, Moviment Malti għall-Biedja Organika, Żminijietna, is-Soċjeta' Astronomika ta' Malta, Grupp Tielet Dinja, Amnesty International (Malta Group), Fondazzjoni Gaia, Malta Gay Rigħts Movement, u l-Kunsill Malti Nies b'Diżabiltà qalu:
 
"Nappellaw lill-Gvern li l-White Paper dwar l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi tiġi ppubblikata mill-iktar fis u li l-proċess ta' konsultazzjoni jdum mill-inqas 8 ġimgħat. Huwa importanti ħafna li l-Gvern jagħti widen għas-sottomissjonijiet ta' l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi kollha li jagħmlu sottomissjonijiet. Dan għaliex għaqdiet mhux governattivi differenti jista' jkollhom bżonnijiet u prijoritajiet differenti li għandhom jingħataw widen jekk il-liġi dwar l-NGOs għandha tkun verament komprensiva u rappreżentattiva."
 
"Peress li l-ebda għaqda mhux governattiva m'għandha stat legali, għaqdiet mhux governattivi qed jiffaċċjaw numru ta' problemi. Żewġ eżempji rikorrenti jinkludu l-fatt li NGOs ma jistgħux jibbenefikaw minn garanziji bankarji u li NGOs qed ikollhom problemi meta japplikaw għall-fondi ta' l-Unjoni Ewropea għal proġetti."
 
"Nemmnu wkoll li drittijiet bħal-libertà ta' l-assoċjazzjoni u l-libertà ta' l-espressjoni għandhom jiġu garantiti fil-liġi dwar l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi, u m'għandhomx ikunu dipendenti fuq jekk l-NGO ikollhiex stat legali."

Mike Briguglio
għall-Għaqdiet mhux Governattivi
 

Moviment Graffitti

Kopin

Friends of the Earth (Malta)

Nature Trust
Inizjamed

Ghaqda Malta - Kuba

Fondazzjoni Ceratonia

Ghaqda Drittijiet ta' l-Irgiel

The Arts Collective

Moviment Malti ghall-Biedja Organika
Żminijietna

The Astronomical Society of Malta

Grupp ghat-Tielet Dinja

Amnesty International (Malta Group)

Fondazzjoni Gaia

Malta Gay Rights Movement
Kunsill Malti Persuni b'Dizabilt
à

 

 
 
 
 

Maltese NGOs one step behind

European Union counterparts


Julian Manduca,
Malta Today, 21 Nov. 2004


Maltese NGOs continue to operate one step behind NGOs in most other EU countries. While all NGOs in the new member states have been trying to access EU funds and the EU has shown a willingness to provide much needed money, the Maltese are at a disadvantage because there is no legal framework for them and, barring a few, they cannot provide official evidence that they are legally registered.
 

In applications to the EU insistence is made that each applicant indicate its registration number and whether the organisation has a legal status. Some applications submitted to the EU for funding have been turned down because the organisations were not able to provide a registration number.
 

Among the environment related NGOs, the GAIA Foundation has set itself up as a foundation, but most other organisations have been waiting patiently for the passage of an NGO law that was first promised some five years ago.
 

But the law has been slow in coming. When MaltaToday contacted the Ministry for Family and Social Solidarity for an update, minister Dolores Christina said: “NGO legislation constitutes one of the Ministry’s priorities. Considerable work on the draft legislation regulating voluntary organisations has already been carried out. The legislation will be into two parts. One will be the NGOs Act and the other will consist of amendments to the Civil Code.
 

“Groups of NGOs sent in their proposals to the Ministry. These were used in the drafting stage of the legislation, so that the points raised are given due consideration.” However, no tentative date has been set for the presennting of the legislation to Parliament so it is anybody’s guess when the NGOs can finally be registered.
 

When MaltaToday asked whether the ministery was in a position to help NGOs finding difficulties to obtain funds because of the lack of a law, Christina replied: With the launch, of the European Social Fund’s EQUAL Community Initiative, on the 18 October, interested prospective Partnerships, including NGOs, are able to submit their application forms to the Ministry’s ESF Unit (prior to 18 November 2004) in order to qualify for the attractive level of ESF co-financing available for the selected project.
 

When MaltaToday contacted NGOs to ask if they aware that they ought to have submitted application forms to the ESF Unit, the reply was in the negative and the deadline has now passed.


Maltese NGOs that are registered for VAT are also finding themselves in difficulties because the VAT department is refusing to pay refunds when NGOs carry out campaigns with EU funds. All the major NGOs registered for VAT at its inception and paid and charged VAT as it fell due, but now they are being told they will not be able to claim VAT back if an EU campaign is not an economic activity. This means the NGO would have to pay VAT but not be able claim it back. While the VAT department has told the NGOs they cannot claim VAT back on activities that are not economic, NGOs have never been given a clear official ruling in relation to the EU funded campaigns they are conducting.
 

 
 
 
 

NGO Law Working Group Meets Minister Dolores Cristina

 

On Thursday, 15 July, the NGO Law Working Group met Minister Dolores Cristina who is responsible for NGO legislation in Malta. The position of the Working Group has already been made public, namely through the Memorandum it has drawn up, so this short report will focus on the Minister's comments. Mr. Jesmond Schembri, PA to the Minister, also took part in the meeting.

 

The NGO Law Working Group was represented by Ms. Doris Bingley (National Council of Women of Malta), Ms. Patricia Camilleri (The Archaeology Society), Dr. Robert G. Coenen (Institute for Maltese Culture), Ms. Kay Gretchen (Malta Centre for Human Development), Dr. Adrian Grima (Forum for Justice and Cooperation), Ms. Claudia Taylor-East (SOS Malta), and Ms. Mary Grace Vella (Moviment Graffitti).

 

NGO Representation and the Recommendations

 

The Minister started off by saying that she noted that the Recommendations were drawn up by a small number of NGOs. The members of the Working Group explained the process and how an unprecedented large number of NGOs were actually involved.

 

The Minister noted that many, but not all, of the recommendations in the Memorandum "had already been taken on board" by "the two main drafters" of the White Paper on NGO legislation in Malta which is now at the AG. She said that the public debate that will follow the publication of the White Paper (no date has yet been set) will give the NGOs and the Government the opportunity to tackle the remaining issues.

 

Media Access

 

The minister asked for clarification on the section regarding Media Access. One member of the Working Group replied that it was common practice in many countries to require so many hours during broadcast to be dedicated to public service announcements. Another added that pro bono work for non-profit organizations by professionals and businesses was encouraged for the benefit of society by many governments, with tax deductions offered as an incentive. 

 

Remuneration for Committee Members

 

Another issue that was raised by the Minister was whether the members of the committee could also be employees of the NGOs or receive remuneration for services rendered. The Working Group explained that normally committee members are not paid for sitting on the committee but that given the limited human resources in the country it would be unwise to restrict committee members to people who are not paid for services they may render to the NGO. However, the Working Group emphasized that committee members, though they may be employees, do not receive remuneration for their work while acting in the capacity of Board members.

 

Defining “Voluntary”

 

The Minister said that she had queries about the definition of "voluntary" in the Memorandum. The Working Group pointed out that the definition was taken from the Commonwealth document called NGOs: Guidelines for Good Policy and Practice. The Group also explained that voluntary groups as she understood them and modern-day NGOs are not quite the same thing

 

The Minister also asked whether the Group would include "Foundations," professional bodies or similar organizations in the NGO law. The Group explained that the the two definitions they liked best were NGOs and NPOs (non-profit organizations).

 

NGOs and the Government

 

Although there was considerable discussion of what type of support NGOs would like from the Government, which included the topic of funding, the members of the Working Group explained that support in the form of expertise, for instance in speakers for meetings to bring organizations up to date on legal developments which affect them, or liaison facilities in Brussels, and other "in kind" forms of assistance would be very helpful. It was also pointed out that NGOs were prepared to help themselves function more effectively through networking, which would include sharing best practices. In connection with this discussion, one of the members of the Working Group announced that her organization is in the process of setting up a Resource Centre for NGOs and more information would be forthcoming as soon as agreements with the business community were confirmed.  

 

Length of Consultation Process

 

When asked how long the consultation process on the White Paper would be, the Minister said that four weeks should be enough. One of the members of the Working Group said that this period should not be less than two months because NGOs are mainly run by volunteers who already have a lot of work on their hands and they would need time to initiate a consultation process within their organizations, which would also include seeking legal advice; another member proposed six weeks.

 

Waiting for the White Paper

 

No date for further meetings was set. It appears that no further consultation is deemed necessary by the Government until after the White Paper is published. 

 

17 July 2004

 
 
 
 

Rakkomandazzjonijiet dwar il-Liġi ta’ l-NGOs

Il-Ġimgħa, 21 ta’ Mejju, 7.00pm, Il-Kavallier ta’ San Ġakbu

 

Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma dwar il-Leġislazzjoni għall-NGOs f’Malta mwaqqaf minn għadd kbir ta’ għaqdiet mhux governattivi ppreżenta r-rakkomandazzjonijiet tiegħu lill-Onor. Dolores Cristina, Ministru għall-Familja u s-Solidarjetà Soċjali. 

 

L-għaqdiet Maltin talbu lill-Gvern biex mingħajr aktar dewmien jippubblika l-Abbozz ta’ Liġi (White Paper) dwar l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi biex ikun jista’ jiġi diskuss b’mod miftuħ. Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma talab ukoll lill-Gvern biex jikkonsulta fost l-oħrajn miegħu fuq din il-liġi.

 

Id-dokument jiffoka fuq erba’ oqsma: “Protecting Fundamental Freedoms;” “Integrity and Good Governance;” “Financial Sustainability;” u “Accountability and Transparency.”

 

Ara r-rapport f'The Times (June 2, 2004)

 
 
 
 

Ngo Legislation Working Group

PRESS RELEASE

 

Detailed Recommendations on NGO Legislation

Presented to Minister

                                                                                       

The Working Group for NGO Legislation set up by Maltese NGOs has presented its recommendations to the Hon. Dolores Cristina, Minister for the Family and Social Solidarity. 

 

The Working Group maintains that NGO legislation in Malta should adhere to the principles expressed in the guidelines of the International Center for Not-for Profit Legislation.  These guidelines have been closely examined by the group members who all agree that they represent a baseline of best practice with regard to NGO legislation.

 

Mr. Douglas Rutzen, Senior Vice President for Programs and Managing Attorney of ICNL Legal Services, praised the Maltese Working Group for this initiative:I commend the working group members on this interesting and important initiative.”

 

The main recommendations are that Government publishes the White Paper on NGO legislation without further delay and that Government consults with the Working Group in connection with the NGO legislation. 

 

This document focuses on four areas: Protecting Fundamental Freedoms; Integrity and Good Governance; Financial Sustainability; and Accountability and Transparency.

 

A process of open consultation within the NGO sector started in January when local organizations held a public meeting at Dar Sarria in Floriana to discuss NGO legislation in Malta and issues such as self-regulation and the role of the non-governmental sector in the European Union. Through press releases, emails and by word-of-mouth, all those involved in non-governmental organizations were invited to attend this meeting which was also open to the general public.

 

The meeting was called by four Maltese NGOs: Third World Group; Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust and Inizjamed, which believe that representatives of Maltese NGOs should be involved in the drafting of the NGO law right from the start.

 

Some 20 NGOs were represented at the first meeting and also at a second, during which it was agreed that a group of persons, representing their NGOs, would meet to discuss the main issues involved and to draw up recommendations.  The resulting Memorandum would indicate what the NGOs themselves feel should be the priorities inherent in an NGO law and what the spirit of that law should be.

 

A follow-up meeting was held on Friday, 21 May, during which the working group's recommendations were presented to NGOs. All the representatives present were encouraged to voice their comments on the understanding that these would be included in an Addendum to the Memorandum.

 

The document will also be presented to the Hon. Marie Louise Coleiro of the Malta Labour Party and Dr. Harry Vassallo of Alternattiva Demokratika.

 

The ten members of the Working Group represented the following NGOs: National Council of Women; Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors; The Archaeological Society, Malta; Institute of Maltese Culture; Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ; Centre for Faith and Justice and JRS (Malta); Malta Centre for Human Development; Forum għall-Ġustizzja u l-Koperazzjoni; SOS Malta; and Moviment Graffitti.

 

 

Further information can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/inizjamed/ngosinmalta.htm

 

 

31 May 2004

 

Dr. Adrian Grima

Ms. Patricia Camilleri

 
 
 
 

L-Għaqdiet Maltin Jippreżentaw Rakkomandazzjonijiet Dettaljati dwar il-Liġi ta’ l-NGOs lill-Ministru

 

Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma dwar il-Leġislazzjoni għall-NGOs f’Malta mwaqqaf minn għadd kbir ta’ għaqdiet mhux governattivi ppreżenta r-rakkomandazzjonijiet tiegħu lill-Onor. Dolores Cristina, Ministru għall-Familja u s-Solidarjetà Soċjali. 

 

Fid-dokument tiegħu, il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma jsostni li l-leġislazzjoni dwar l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi f’Malta għandha timxi mal-prinċipji stabbiliti mill-International Center for Not-for-Profit Legislation (ICNL). Wara li analizza x-xogħol ta’ din l-organizzazzjoni internazzjonali, il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma wasal għall-konklużjoni li l-linji gwida mxandra minn dan iċ-ċentru għandhom iservu bħala l-perdament ta’ leġislazzjoni dwar l-NGOs. 

 

Is-Sur Douglas Rutzen, il-Viċi President ewlieni ta’ l-ICNL, bagħat messaġġ lill-membri tal-Grupp ta’ Ħidma Malti biex ifaħħarhom għall-“inizjattiva interessanti u importanti” tagħhom u wiegħed l-appoġġ ta­ċ-Ċentru tiegħu lill-għaqdiet Maltin fejn tidħol il-leġislazzjoni għall-għaqdiet li m’għandhomx l-għan li jagħmlu l-qligħ.

 

L-għaqdiet Maltin talbu lill-Gvern biex mingħajr aktar dewmien jippubblika l-Abbozz ta’ Liġi (White Paper) dwar l-għaqdiet mhux governattivi biex ikun jista’ jiġi diskuss b’mod miftuħ. Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma talab ukoll lill-Gvern biex jikkonsulta fost l-oħrajn miegħu fuq din il-liġi.

 

Id-dokument jiffoka fuq erba’ oqsma: “Protecting Fundamental Freedoms;” “Integrity and Good Governance;” “Financial Sustainability;” u “Accountability and Transparency.”

 

Dawn ir-Rakkomandazzjonijiet huma l-frott ta’ tliet xhur ta’ riċerka u diskussjoni fi ħdan il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma magħmul minn 10 persuni li offrew li jfasslu memorandum bħala rappreżentanti ta’ l-NGOs preżenti għat-tieni laqgħa pubblika li saret nhar il-Ġimgħa, 13 ta’ Frar, 2004.

 

Dan il-proċess ta’ konsultazzjonijiet miftuħa beda b’laqgħa pubblika f’Dar Sarria l-Furjana li fiha l-għaqdiet iddiskutew il-leġislazzjoni għall-NGOs f’Malta u kwistjonijiet bħalma huma l-awto-regolamentazzjoni u r-rwol tas-settur mhux governattiv fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Għal din il-laqgħa l-organizzaturi stiednu lill-pubbliku in ġenerali, speċjalment lil dawk kollha mdaħħlin fil-qasam ta' l-għaqdiet f’Malta. Dan sar, fost l-oħrajn, permezz ta’ stqarrijiet fil-mezzi tax-xandir.

 

L-inizjattiva biex isiru l-ewwel żewġ laqgħat pubbliċi ttieħdet mill-Forum għall-Ġustizzja u l-Koperazzjoni magħmul mill-Grupp għat-Tielet Dinja, Inizjamed, il-Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust u Kopin, li jemmnu li l-NGOs għandu jkollhom sehem ewlieni fil-proċess kollu tat-tfassil tal-liġi.

 

Madwar 25 organizzazzjoni, fosthom il-Kunsill Nazzjonali tan-Nisa u l-Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ ħadu sehem f’dawn it-tliet laqgħat pubbliċi. Fit-tieni laqgħa, l-għaqdiet preżenti ftiehmu li grupp ta’ persuni li jirrappreżentaw l-NGOs għandhom jiltaqgħu biex jiddiskutu l-kwistjonijiet ewlenin marbutin mal-liġi għall-NGOs u jfasslu sensiela ta’ rakkomandazzjonijiet. L-għan ta’ dan il-Memorandum hu li l-NGOs infushom ifissru dawk li għalihom għandhom ikunu l-prijoritajiet u l-ispirtu ta’ leġislazzjoni dwar is-settur tagħhom.

 

Id-dokument se jiġi ppreżentat ukoll lill-Onor. Marie Louise Coleiro tal-Malta Labour Party u lil Dr. Harry Vassallo, Chairperson ta’ Alternattiva Demokratika.

 

L-għaxar membri tal-Grupp ta’ Ħidma kienu rappreżentanti tal-Kunsill Nazzjonali tan-Nisa u l-Kunsill Nazzjonali taż-Żgħażagħ, Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors; The Archaeological Society, Malta; Institute of Maltese Culture; iċ-Ċentru Fidi u Ġustizzja u JRS (Malta); Malta Centre for Human Development; il-Forum għall-Ġustizzja u l-Koperazzjoni; SOS Malta; u l-Moviment Graffitti.

 

Għal aktar tagħrif ara: http://www.geocities.com/inizjamed/ngosinmalta.htm

 

 

Il-31 ta’ Mejju, 2004

 

Dr. Adrian Grima

Ms. Patricia Camilleri

 

Dan l-artiklu deher f'L-Orizzont (L-Erbgha, 16 ta' Ġunju, 2004)

 
 
 
 

The members of the NGO Law Working Group are

  • Doris Bingley (National Council of Women)

  • Christine Borg (Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors)

  • Robert Coenen (Institute for Maltese Culture)

  • Daniela Debono (National Youth Council)

  • Pierre Grech Marguerat SJ (JRS Malta - Centre for Faith and Justice)

  • Kay Gretchen (Malta Centre for Human Development)

  • Adrian Grima (Forum for Justice and Cooperation)

  • Patricia Camilleri (The Archaeological Society)

  • Claudia Taylor-East (SOS Malta)

  • Mary Grace Vella / Ruth Navarro (Moviment Graffitti)

 
 
 
 
NGOs to Present Recommendations
for NGO Legislation in Malta
 

Friday, 21 May, at 7pm in the Music Room of St. James Cavalier

 

The Working Group for NGO Legislation in Malta set up by large number of local NGOs will be presenting its recommendations to the organizations who were represented at the first two public meetings held in January and February 2004 and to other interested groups.

 

This meeting will be held this Friday, 21 May, at 7pm in the Music Room of St. James Cavalier. The recommendations will be presented by Patricia Camilleri who will also be chairing the meeting. The Working Group will be seeking approval of its work from the representatives present for the meeting.

 

These Recommendations are the result of three months of research and discussion with the Working Group made up of 10 persons who volunteered to prepare this memorandum as representatives of the NGOs present at the second public meeting held on Friday, 13 February, 2004.

 

This process of open consultation within the NGO sector started in January when local organizations held a public meeting at Dar Sarria in Floriana to discuss NGO legislation in Malta and issues such as self-regulation and the role of the non-governmental sector in the European Union. All those involved in non-governmental organizations were invited to attend this meeting (through press releases, emails and word-of-mouth). The meeting was also open to the general public.

 

The meeting was organized by four Maltese NGOs, the Third World Group, Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust and Inizjamed, who believe that representatives of Maltese NGOs should be involved in the drafting of this law right from the start.

 

Some 20 NGOs were represented at the first meeting and also at a second meeting held on Friday, 13 February 2004. At this second meeting, it was agreed that a group of persons, representing their NGOs, would meet to discuss the main issues involved and to draw up recommendations. The resulting Memorandum would indicate what the NGOs themselves feel should be the priorities inherent in an NGO law and what the spirit of that law should be.

 

Adrian Grima

Chairperson

19 May, 2004

 
 
 
 

Ir-Rakkomandazzjonijiet ta’ l-Għaqdiet

dwar il-Liġi ta’ l-NGOs

 

Il-Ġimgħa, 21 ta’ Mejju, fis-7.00pm

fis-Sala tal-Mużika tal-Kavallier ta’ San Ġakbu

 

Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma dwar il-Leġislazzjoni għall-NGOs f’Malta mwaqqaf minn għadd kbir ta’ aqdiet mhux governattivi se jippreżenta r-rakkomandazzjonijiet tiegħu lil dawk l-organizzazzjonijiet li kienu preżenti għall-ewwel żewġ laqgħat pubbliċi f’Jannar u Frar ta’ l-2004 u lil gruppi oħrajn li huma interessati nhar il-Ġimgħa, 21 ta’ Mejju, fis-7.00pm, fis-Sala tal-Mużika tal-Kavallier ta’ San Ġakbu.

 

Il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma se jitlob l-approvazzjoni għax-xogħol li sar mir-rappreżentanti ta’ l-għaqdiet li se jkunu preżenti għal-laqgħa. Ir-rakkomandazzjonijiet se jiġu ppreżentati minn Patricia Camilleri.

 

Dawn ir-Rakkomandazzjonijiet huma l-frott ta’ tliet xhur ta’ riċerka u diskussjoni fi ħdan il-Grupp ta’ Ħidma magħmul minn 10 persuni li offrew li jfasslu memorandum bħala rappreżentanti ta’ l-NGOs preżenti għat-tieni laqgħa pubblika li saret nhar il-Ġimgħa, 13 ta’ Frar, 2004.

 

Dan il-proċess ta’ konsultazzjonijiet miftuħa beda b’laqgħa pubblika f’Dar Sarria l-Furjana li fiha l-għaqdiet iddiskutew il-leġislazzjoni għall-NGOs f’Malta u kwistjonijiet bħalma huma l-awto-regolamentazzjoni u r-rwol tas-settur mhux governattiv fl-Unjoni Ewropea. Għal din il-laqgħa l-organizzaturi stiednu lill-pubbliku in ġenerali, speċjalment lil dawk kollha mdaħħlin fil-qasam ta' l-għaqdiet f’Malta. Dan sar, fost l-oħrajn, permezz ta’ stqarrijiet fil-mezzi tax-xandir.

 

L-inizjattiva biex isiru l-ewwel żewġ laqgħat pubbliċi ttieħdet mill-Forum għall-Ġustizzja u l-Koperazzjoni magħmul mill-Grupp għat-Tielet Dinja, Inizjamed, il-Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust u Kopin, li jemmnu li l-NGOs għandu jkollhom sehem ewlieni fil-proċess kollu tat-tfassil tal-liġi.

 

Ma’ l-20 għaqda kienu preżenti għall-ewwel u t-tieni laqgħa li saru f’Jannar u Frar ta’ din is-sena. Fit-tieni laqgħa, l-għaqdiet preżenti ftiehmu li grupp ta’ persuni li jirrappreżentaw l-NGOs għandhom jiltaqgħu biex jiddiskutu l-kwistjonijiet ewlenin marbutin mal-liġi għall-NGOs u jfasslu sensiela ta’ rakkomandazzjonijiet. L-għan ta’ dan il-Memorandum hu li l-NGOs infushom ifissru dawk li għalihom għandhom ikunu l-prijoritajiet u l-ispirtu ta’ leġislazzjoni dwar is-settur tagħhom.

 

 

Adrian Grima

Chairperson

Id-19 ta' Mejju, 2004

 
 
 
 

Government Drafting Legal Framework for NGOs

Massimo Farrugia

 

The Times, May 15, 2004

 

The government is drafting a White Paper on trusts and voluntary organisations in order to provide a legal framework for the numerous NGOs in society.

 

Addressing representatives of youth organisations at the Nationalist Party headquarters yesterday morning, Prime Minister Lawrence Gonzi said that in recent years the government had recognised the important contribution of civil society in line with the importance given to civil societies by the European Union.

 

"The upcoming laws shall continue to recognise the importance of civil society," he said.

 

Dr Gonzi was flanked by the PN candidates for the European parliament elections of June 12.

 

The Prime Minister said that the first, unprecedented step that led to the inclusion of civil society in the country's decision-making process was the establishment of the Malta Council for Economic and Social Development.

 

He said the PN was inviting youth organisations to speak to its EP candidates.

 

The media was asked to leave when the youth representatives started expressing their views.

http://www.timesofmalta.com/core/article.php?id=153892&hilite=ngo

 
 
 
 

The European Commission Replies about

Legal Framework for NGOs

26 February, 2004

In January, 2004, Matti Wuori Green, MEP, on the initiative of Arnold Cassola of Alternattiva Demokratika, asked the European Commission about the lack of a legal framework for NGOs in Malta. The question was sent by the Maltese NGDO national Platform. [See below]

According to Prof. Cassola, the answer makes it clear "that the whole onus of a legal framework for NGOs lies with the Maltese government, and the EU is just waiting for this to be put in place." This is the reply of the European Commission:

"The community´s legislation does not oblige the member states to create a legal framework for the non-governmental organisations. This is an issue which the member states can decide themselves. Therefore the Commission does not have the right to "put pressure on the Maltese government" in order to set up the legal framework.
 
The Commission has maintained before the enlargement and always, when it has been necessary and possible, that the non-governmental organisations are included in projects financed by Community.
 
Within its framework of support for NGOs the commission is ready to consider special projects for the implementation of the community´s legislation and policies in Malta."

Special thanks to Michael Gatt, coordinator of the Maltese NGDO Platform


 
 

Second Public Meeting to define the aims of the

Discussion Forum on NGO Legislation

 

After having organised the public discussion on the NGO White Paper on Friday, 23 January, the Forum for Justice and Cooperation, is hosting another meeting on the subject on Friday, 13 February 2004 at 7.15 pm at “Dar Sarria”, Floriana.

All organisations present for the first meeting are invited to attend. All other
organisations who have already expressed interest in joining the discussion or
others who may be interested are also welcome.
 

Agenda

 

1. Defining the aims of the Discussion Forum on NGO Legislation:

- to convene the broadest possible participation from the NGO sector;

- to act as an informal forum for the exchange of ideas and experiences;

- to develop cross-sectoral dialogue between cultural, development, environment, humanitarian aid, human rights and social Malta-based NGOs;

- to identify issues of common interest and outline a plan of action aimed at bringing about the publication of a White Paper on NGO Legislation;

- to raise awareness among the national institutions and other civil society actors, and the general public;

- to advocate a position common to all NGOs and to promote issues pertaining to the NGO sector on the agenda of the Maltese Government.

 

2. Setting up the Core Working Group:

- self-nominations of persons interested in forming part of the working group;

- setting up the working group (up to 9 members) and identifying a chairperson;

- choosing the method to be used for communication within the forum (e-group);

- ensuring effective communication between the working group and the forum;

- setting a date for the submission of a final draft of the document containing the submissions and recommendations to be included in the White Paper – ‘Voluntary Organisations Act’.

 

3. Other Matters

 

William Grech (Kopin)

7 February, 2004

 
 
 
 

Public Meeting Discusses NGO Legislation in Malta

 

A public dialogue on the issue of NGO legislation in Malta was held last Friday, 23 January 2004, at Dar Sarria in Floriana, on the initiative of four Maltese NGOs who came together in 2002 to form the Forum for Justice and Cooperation. These are the Third World Group, Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, and Inizjamed.

 

The main speakers were Dr. Max Ganado, Mr Michael Gatt and Mr. Luděk Štěrba. The meeting was chaired by Mr William Grech of Kopin. Dr Ganado was assigned the task of drafting the Voluntary Organisations Act and is the co-ordinator of a group of three persons asked to draft the law.  The other members were former President of the Republic, Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and Dr Tony Vella.  Michael Gatt is the co-ordinator of the Maltese National Platform of non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) and Ludek Sterba is an activist from the Czech Republic who has been in Malta for 6 months working and training with Koperattiva Kummerċ Gust.

 

Dr Ganado illustrated the main principles guiding the drafting of the legislation. However, he stopped short of distributing copies of the draft. A government spokesman from the Ministry for Social Policy contacted before the meeting stated that government is committed to publish the document as a white paper only once the draft legislation would reflect government policy on the subject. He further stated that Dr. Ganado should only discuss the principles and concepts that are formulating the document as the document reflects just a drafting stage.

 

Michael Gatt spoke about the recent Parliamentary question that was presented by the NGDO Platform in the European parliament intended to press the Maltese government into publishing the draft paper for NGO legislation. He stressed that whenever regulation is justified, it should be prepared in a fully transparent way that maximises public participation in its formulation. He noted that a 1998 European Council Regulation reaffirms the specific and irreplaceable role of NGOs. However this is still lacking in Malta. The absence of a legislative framework might hinder Maltese NGDOs from participating meaningfully in partnerships with other European NGDOs.

 

Luděk Štěrba described the fact that there is no legislation for NGOs in Malta as “unbelievable”. He could not imagine how NGOs could exist without it.  A recognised NGO could apply for the different grants and projects, and take part in official dealings as a partner.  Offices and institutions have the obligation to ask NGOs about different issues and inform them about dealings. The issue of legal recognition of NGOs in the Czech Republic was resolved immediately after the fall of Communism in the early Nineties.

 

All organisations present agreed that since a great number of Maltese organisations had individually urged one government after another to take up this issue seriously but none had succeeded over a period of more than a decade, it was time to join their resources in a concerted effort to put pressure on the government to publish the draft as soon as possible. This would set the stage for a public discussion. However, this situation clearly shows the lack of commitment on the part of government to effectively and systematically consult NGOs in the formulation of a legislative framework that would affect them directly.

 

To this effect, the representatives of the organisations present agreed to form a core working-group that would draw up principles and ideas that different NGOs believe should form an integral part of the eventual legislation. This working-group would also exert pressure on the government to publish the draft document – the “Voluntary Organisations Act”.

 

The participants agreed to form a Forum open to Malta-based NGOs to enable a discussion on all issues related to the recognition and regulation of NGOs in Malta. Any other NGOs interested in joining this Forum are to send an email to kopin@maltaforum.org

 

The organisations present for the meeting were Ananda Marga, Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors, Breast Cancer Support Group, Centre for Faith and Justice, Friends of the Earth, Ghaqda Malta-Kuba, GWU Youths, Inizjamed, Institute for Maltese Culture, Jesuit Refugee Service, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, Kopin, National Youth Council, Move Organisation, Moviment Graffiti, PULSE, Soroptimist International of Malta, SOS Malta, The Archaeological Society, The Vegetarian Society of Malta, Third World Group, Voluntary Lay Missionaries, Zminijietna.

 

William Grech

Kopin (Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali)

24 January 2004

 
 
 
 

Public Meeting to Discuss NGO Legislation in Malta

 

On Friday 23 January, 2003, at 7.15pm, at Dar Sarria in Floriana, local NGOs will be holding a public meeting to discuss NGO legislation in Malta and issues such as self-regulation and the role of the non-governmental sector in the European Union. All those involved in non-governmental organisations are invited to attend this meeting which is also open to the general public.

 

This meeting is being organized by four Maltese NGOs who came together in 2002 to form the Forum for Justice and Cooperation. These are the Third World Group, Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, and Inizjamed. These organisations strongly believe that representatives of Maltese NGOs should have been involved in the drafting of this law right from the start.

 

The main speakers will be Mr. Michael Gatt, Dr. Max Ganado, and Mr. Luděk Štěrba (in picture). The meeting will be chaired by Mr. William Grech of Kopin (International Cooperation). Michael Gatt is the coordinator of the Maltese National Platform of non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs), and Luděk Štěrba is an activist from the Czech Republic who has been in Malta for 6 months working and training with Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust and writing his MA thesis on fair trade to be presented to Masaryk University in Brno.

 

Dr. Max Ganado, who was assigned the task of drafting the Voluntary Organisations Act, will explain what the White Paper will probably include and propose. He was the co-ordinator of a group of three persons asked to draft the law. The other Members were former President of the Republic, Dr. Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and Dr. Tony Vella.

 

In the past few years, different Maltese organisations, like the Third World Group and Nature Trust, have urged one government after another to take up this issue seriously. Ludek Sterba describes the fact that there is no legislation for NGOs in Malta as “unbelievable.” “I cannot imagine how we could exist without it. As a recognized NGO we can apply for the different grants and projects, and take part in official dealings as a partner. Offices have the obligation to ask us about different issues and inform us about dealings.”

 

Last week, the National Platform of Maltese NGDOs raised the issue of the lack of a legal framework for non-governmental organisations in Malta in the European Parliament. Finnish Green MEP Matti Wuori, who is a Constitutional and Human Rights lawyer, asked a Parliamentary Question on this issue on the initiative of Arnold Cassola of Alternattiva Demokratika.

 

The Parliamentary Question stated that the lack of a legal framework for the regulation of non-governmental organisations “is hindering established NGOs, including non-governmental development organisations with an excellent track record, from developing their full capacities. Such a framework would enable them to participate meaningfully in partnerships with other European NGOs.”

 

The public meeting on Friday will also discuss the role of NGOs in the European Union. EU institutions, including the European Commission, the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament have a strong tradition of direct contacts with civil society organisations. These contacts are aimed at contributing to the process of policy-making that reflects the diversity of interests, perspectives and needs in the EU. According to MIC, consultation with these groups is part of the law and tradition in the EU.More information on this issue is available on Inizjamed’s website at http://inizjamed.cjb.net.

 

In December 2003, the Department of Rural, Community and Gaeltacht Affairs published a Consultation Paper on “Establishing a Modern Statutory Framework for Charities” (or NGOs). “The very basis of charity is essentially voluntary. Even large professionally–run charities are ultimately the responsibility of voluntary trustees. In practice, the overwhelming majority of charities are very small and managed entirely by volunteers. The charities sector derives much of its dynamism from such small voluntary community groups. Inappropriate regulation would risk stifling this dynamism. The emphasis of reform should therefore be on achieving the right balance between, on the one hand, proper accountability and vigorous intervention when charity is abused and, on the other hand, appropriate support and guidance to promote best practice.”

 

On the issue of having a legal framework for NGOs, Hans Zomer, Director of Dóchas, the umbrella organisation of Irish NGDOs, has an interesting position: “Our line has been that this is helpful, but that self-regulation of the sector, by bodies such as Dóchas, may be preferrable.”

 

Dóchas and the Maltese NGDO platform are both members of CONCORD, which is the European NGO Confederation for Relief and Development. Its 12 international networks and 18 national associations from the European Member States and the candidate countries represent about 1200 European NGOs vis-à-vis the European Institutions.

 

A number of organisations and individuals directly involved in this sector have already confirmed their participation in this public meeting. These include KNŻ (the National Youth Council), Move Organisation, Gaia Foundation, the Institute for Maltese Culture, GWU Youths, and the members of the NGDO national plaform.

 

Dar Sarria in Floriana where the meeting will be held is opposite the Scouts Headquarters and Robert Samut Hall.

 

Adrian Grima

21 January, 2004

 
 
 
 

THE MALTESE NATIONAL NGDO PLATFORM

Press Release - 10th January, 2004

 

The Issue of a Legal Framework for Maltese NGOs

raised in the European Parliament

 

The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs has raised the issue of the lack of a legal framework for non-governmental organisations in Malta in the European Parliament. Finnish Green MEP Matti Wuori, who is a Constitutional and Human Rights lawyer, asked a Parliamentary Question on this issue on the initiative of Arnold Cassola of Alternattiva Demokratika.

 

The Parliamentary Question states that Malta “has no legal framework for the regulation of non-governmental organisations. This is hindering established NGOs, including non-governmental development organisations with an excellent track record, from developing their full capacities. Such a framework would enable them to participate meaningfully in partnerships with other European NGOs.”

 

The Question asks whether the Commission should “put pressure on the Maltese government to set up the necessary legal framework without further delay.” This “would be a step in the right direction in recognising the expertise and mandate of all established NGOs, including NGDOs working in the international development field, and offering all the necessary support for NGOs and NGDOs to continue and further their global solidarity work.”

 

The Maltese NGDO Platform is coordinated by Kopin (Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali). The other members are the Third World Group, Koperattiva Kummerċ Ġust, Jesuit Refugee Service, Centre for Faith and Justice, Voluntary Lay Missionaries, Moviment Graffitti, SOS Albania, Share Foundation and Kare4Kenya. The Maltese NGDO Platform is also a member of CONCORD, the Confederation of European NGOs working in the field of Relief and Development. Its 12 international networks and 18 national associations from the European Member States and the candidate countries represent about 1200 European NGOs in their dealings with European and other international institutions.

 

Michael Gatt

Coordinator

Maltese National NGDO Platform

 
 
 
 

Maltese NGOs issue raised in European parliament

The National Platform of Maltese Development NGOs has raised the issue of the lack of a legal framework for non-governmental organisations in Malta in the European parliament.

The Finnish Green member of the European parliament, Matti Wuori, a constitutional and human rights lawyer, asked a parliamentary question on the issue on the initiative of Arnold Cassola of Alternattiva Demokratika.

The parliamentary question points out that Malta "has no legal framework for the regulation of non-governmental organisations. This is hindering established NGOs, including non-governmental development organisations with an excellent track record, from developing their full capacities. Such a framework would enable them to participate meaningfully in partnerships with other European NGOs".

The MEP asked whether the Commission should "put pressure on the Maltese government to set up the necessary legal framework without further delay".

It would be "a step in the right direction in recognising the expertise and mandate of all established NGOs, including NGDOs, working in the international development field and offering all the necessary support for NGOs and NGDOs to continue and further their global solidarity work".

The Maltese NGDO Platform is coordinated by Kopin (Koperazzjoni Internazzjonali) and the other members are the Third World Group, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, the Jesuit Refugee Service, the Centre for Faith and Justice, Voluntary Lay Missionaries, Moviment Graffitti, SOS Albania, Share Foundation and Kare4Kenya.

The Maltese NGDO Platform is also a member of CONCORD, the Confederation of European NGOs, working in the field of relief and development. Its 12 international networks and 18 national associations from the European member states and the candidate countries represent about 1,200 European NGOs in the dealings with European and other international institutions.

 

The article appeared in The Times (Monday, January 12, 2004)

 

Forum for Malta-based NGOs

Representatives of non-governmental organisations attending a public dialogue on the issue of NGO legislation in Malta last Friday agreed to set up a forum for Malta-based NGOs to enable a discussion on all issues related to the recognition and regulation of NGOs in Malta.

NGOs believe they should form an integral part of the eventual legislation.

The dialogue, organised on the initiative of four Maltese NGOs - Third World Group, Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust and Inizjamed - was addressed by Max Ganado who was assigned the task of drafting the Voluntary Organisations Act and who illustrated the main principles guiding the drafting of the legislation. The government would be publishing the draft document as a white paper.

Ludek Sterba, an activist from the Czech Republic who has been in Malta for six months working and training with Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, said it was unbelievable that Malta had no legislation for NGOs yet. He could not imagine how NGOs could exist without it.

The issue of legal recognition of NGOs in the Czech Republic was resolved immediately after the fall of Communism in the early 1990s, he said.

NGOs interested in joining the forum should e-mail kopin@maltaforum.org.
 

The Times, Monday, January 26, 2004


Public meeting discusses NGO legislation in Malta

A public dialogue on NGO legislation in Malta was held last Friday at Dar Sarria in Floriana, on the initiative of four Maltese NGOs who came together in 2002 to form the Forum for Justice and Co-operation.

These are the Third World Group, Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, and Inizjamed.

The main speakers were Dr Max Ganado, Michael Gatt and Ludek Sterba. The meeting was chaired by William Grech of Kopin.

Dr Ganado was assigned the task of drafting the Voluntary Organisations Act and is the co-ordinator of a group of three persons asked to draft the law. The other members were former President of the Republic Dr Ugo Mifsud Bonnici and Dr Tony Vella.

Mr Gatt is the co-ordinator of the Maltese National Platform of non-governmental development organisations (NGDOs) and Mr Sterba is an activist from the Czech Republic who has been in Malta for six months working and training with Koperattiva Kummerc Gust.

Dr Ganado illustrated the main principles guiding the drafting of the legislation. However, he stopped short of distributing copies of the draft. A spokesman from the Ministry for Social Policy contacted before the meeting stated that Government is committed to publish the document as a white paper only once the draft legislation would reflect government policy on the subject.

Mr Gatt spoke about the recent parliamentary question presented by the NGDO Platform in the European Parliament intended to press the Maltese government into publishing the draft paper for NGO legislation. He stressed that whenever regulation is justified, it should be prepared in a fully transparent way that maximises public participation in its formulation.

He noted that a 1998 European Council Regulation reaffirms the specific and irreplaceable role of NGOs. However this is still lacking in Malta.

Mr Sterba described the fact that there is no legislation for NGOs in Malta as "unbelievable". He could not imagine how NGOs could exist without it. A recognised NGO could apply for the different grants and projects, and take part in official dealings as a partner. Offices and institutions have the obligation to ask NGOs about different issues and inform them about dealings.

All organisations present agreed that since many Maltese organisations had individually urged one government after another to take up this issue seriously but none had succeeded over a period of more than a decade, it was time to pool their resources in a concerted effort to put pressure on the government to publish the draft as soon as possible. This would set the stage for a public discussion. However, this situation clearly shows the lack of commitment on the part of Government to effectively and systematically consult NGOs in the formulation of a legislative framework that would affect them directly.

To this effect, the representatives of the organisations present agreed to form a core working-group that would draw up principles and ideas that different NGOs believe should form an integral part of the eventual legislation. This working-group would also exert pressure on the government to publish the draft document - the Voluntary Organisations Act.

The participants agreed to establish a forum open to Malta-based NGOs to enable a discussion on all issues related to the recognition and regulation of NGOs in Malta. Any other NGOs interested in joining this forum are to send an e-mail to kopin@malta forum.org.

The organisations represented at the meeting were Ananda Marga, Association of Breastfeeding Counsellors, Breast Cancer Support Group, Centre for Faith and Justice, Friends of the Earth, Ghaqda Malta-Kuba, GWU Youths, Inizjamed, Institute for Maltese Culture, Jesuit Refugee Service, Koperattiva Kummerc Gust, Kopin, National Youth Council, Move Organisation, Moviment Graffiti, Pulse, Soroptimist International of Malta, SOS Malta, the Archaeological Society, the Vegetarian Society of Malta, Third World Group, Voluntary Lay Missionaries, and
Żminijietna.

 

The Sunday Times, January 25, 2004

See also di-ve.com

 
 
 

Youth organisations urge government to publish

White paper on NGOs


VALLETTA, Malta (di-ve news)--February 23, 2004 - 1145CET--Six youth organisations expressed their concern on the publication of the new White paper on non-governmental organisation (NGO) legislation after government failed to consult with youth organisations and NGOs.

In a joint statement, GWU youths, Move, Moviment Graffiti, Labour Youth Forum and Pulse said that since all organisations shall be affected by this legislation, it is of imminent importance that the government hastens the publication of this White paper. It will give all organisations due time to examine the draft and voice their opinions.

 
 
 
 

PARTNERSHIP FOR A HEALTHY VOLUNTARY SECTOR

 

MEMORANDUM OF PROPOSALS FOR NGO LEGISLATION

 

 

The Non-Governmental Organisations Working Group

Malta

 

April 2004

  

  

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

A sound legal framework is essential for a healthy non-governmental sector. Clear, supportive rules and parameters in such areas as registration, tax benefits for organisations and donors and accountability, facilitate voluntary organisations' development and function.  It is widely recognised in the literature on the subject that government should consult NGOs at all stages of drafting such legislation and administrative regulations.

 

Twenty NGOs in Malta have united in their belief that NGO legislation must be taken seriously by the Government of Malta and must proceed expeditiously. These NGOs delegated the task of drafting recommendations for the principles upon which such legislation should be based to a representative working group. This Memorandum is the result of the Non-Governmental Organisations Working Group’s deliberations. The recommendations stated on the first page of the Memorandum call on the Government of Malta to join with Non-Governmental Organisations to draft NGO legislation that will benefit all stakeholders-including the public. In short, the recommendations propose a partnership of action, based on transparency of priorities, mutual respect, and principles that have been known to foster good results when embraced in NGO legislation.

 

The Working Group’s statement of priorities for NGO legislation in Malta is the [Adapted] International Center for Not-for-Profit Law “Checklist for NPO Law” (INCL, n.d.), which is appended to this Memorandum. This document focuses on four areas:

   

• Protecting Fundamental Freedoms

• Integrity and good governance

• Financial Sustainability

• Accountability and Transparency

 

Within each of these areas, the document highlights the main points at issue.  In the first section, importance is given to the topic of registration.  Clearly, this is seen as central because the very fact of registration can give rise to questions of independence and control which might affect the very life of an NGO.

 

The document reiterates the fundamental right of an NGO to exist within or without legislative parameters.  It outlines methods of registration that can satisfy the needs of both the government and the NGOs themselves.  This includes issues such as the information required by the Government; the type of body which will, in fact, be taking registrations; the terms of dissolution and permitted purposes.  It also looks at the question of qualification for public benefit status i.e. the possible establishment of a separate state organ to determine qualification. It closes with a mention of Media Access. This is particularly salient in Malta, as media access for NGOs has been very much on an ad hoc basis so far, in contrast to the formal recognition of access for NGOs proposed in the Checklist.

 

The second section discusses those issues concerned with internal organisation of the NGO structures.  It touches upon the kind of documentation which the NGO should be required to keep on a regular basis while insisting upon the freedom of an NGO to develop new structures and activities, so long as these are within the general law of the land. 

 

Important topics such as conflict of interest and the need for officers and board members to show loyalty to the NGO in areas of confidentiality are emphasised.  The idea of non-distribution of profits to individuals is fundamental in this document and it clearly outlines the ways in which profits should be utilised.   Also discussed are voluntary self-regulation and the usefulness of umbrella organisations in this regard.

 

The third section deals with financial issues.  It outlines the parameters of fund-raising - the limitations, standards and also the necessity to sanction inappropriate conduct, as well as the issues of tax exemption, deductions for donors, and waiving of duties. With the increased size and breadth of activity amongst some NGOs, issues of income, tax exemption and the taxation of economic activities are becoming key to their development.  The idea of giving preferential treatment to NGOs with regard to custom duties is, for example, still administered on an ad hoc basis.  The benefit of an NGO law will also be the regularisation and acceptance of such treatment.

 

Also included in this third section is the topic of foreign funding which is becoming vital to the development of many NGOs in Malta, not only the larger ones.  The document discusses the importance of NGO-government partnerships in which government provides project financing for NGOs through grants and contracts. 

 

In its discussion about accountability and transparency in the fourth section, the document highlights the necessity for clear but straight forward reporting by NGOs to the supervisory body and mentions the need for appropriate privacy interests of donors and recipients of benefits to be upheld. 

 

Auditing has been a much-discussed topic both in the general meetings held with NGOs and within the working group with many different ideas being mooted.  In this document, there is a clear indication of how auditing can be carried out to the satisfaction of all the stakeholders (supervisory body; committee members; members etc).  The suggestion seems to be that not all NGOs, which have opted for registration, should be obliged to submit audited accounts every year but that the supervisory body would have the right to randomly select NGOs for examination of accounts.  This, however, insists the report, can never be used as a method of ‘harassing’ any NGO.

 

The Non-Governmental Organisations Working Group, and the NGOs which it represents, recognise that their initiative is only the beginning of the process of reaching an agreement on NGO legislation which benefits all the stake holders. It looks forward to the Government’s response to the proposals of this Memorandum, and with it, the beginning of the larger process of building an enduring government-NGO partnership.   

 

 

 

CONTENTS

 

 

 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY………………………………                 1

 

CONTENTS………………………………………………              3

 

RECOMMENDATIONS…………………………………               4

 

BACKGROUND…………………………………………               5

 

CONCLUSIONS…………………………………………               5

                                                                                                            

CHARACTERISTICS OF NON PROFIT ORGANISATIONS        6

 

REFERENCES……………………………………………               9

 

APPENDIX A: Amended ICNL Checklist……………….               10

 

APPENDIX B: Council of Europe guidelines……………                 16

 

ADDENDUM

 


 

 

THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS WORKING GROUP MEMORANDUM

 

 

Recommendations

 

 

• that Government publishes the White Paper on NGO legislation without further delay.

 

• that Government consults with this Working Group in connection with the NGO legislation.

 

·   that NGO legislation in Malta adhere to the principles in the appended Checklist.

 

__________________________________________________________________

 

"It goes without saying that [ ] government-NGO consultation should take place at all stages of the drafting of legislation and administrative decrees that affect and frame

NGO status, financing or spheres of influence".

'The Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organisations and Their Role in a Pluralistic Democracy: Guidelines to promote the development and strengthening of NGOs in Europe". 

(Published after a multilateral meeting organised by the Council of Europe

in cooperation with the Japan Foundation, Strasbourg, 23 - 25 March 1998)

__________________________________________________________________

 

 Background

 

On Friday, 23 January, 2004, at 7.15pm, at Dar Sarria in Floriana, local NGOs held a public meeting to discuss NGO legislation in Malta and issues such as self-regulation and the role of the non-governmental sector in the European Union. All those involved in non-governmental organisations were invited to attend this meeting (through press releases, emails and word-of-mouth).  The meeting was also open to the general public.

 

The meeting was organized by four Maltese NGOs, The Third World Group, Kopin, Koperattiva Kummerc, Gust, and Inizjamed, who shared the belief that representatives of Maltese NGOs should be involved in the drafting of this law right from the start.

 

Some 20 NGOs were represented at the first meeting and also at a second meeting held on Friday, 13 February 2004.  At this last meeting, it was agreed that a group of persons, representing their NGOs, would meet to discuss the main issues involved and to draw up recommendations.  The resulting Memorandum would indicate what the NGOs themselves feel should be the priorities inherent in an NGO law and what the spirit of that law should be.

 

Conclusions

 

The group members researched the main issues concerning NGO legislation and returned to the meetings to discuss their findings.  Much has been written on the subject but eventually it was decided to adopt as recommendations most of the points in the “Checklist for NPO Laws”[1] (The International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, http://www.icnl.org/gendocs/cheklist.htm, n.d.). 

 

This is a "basic checklist of provisions that should be included in legislation governing not-for-profit organisations (NPOs) … (and) is based on the research effort conducted by ICNL in connection with writing the World Bank “Handbook on Good Practices for Laws Relating to Nongovernmental Organisations” (Discussion Draft,1997) as well as subsequent research activities." (ICNL, n.d.)

 

The working group examined each point on the checklist and agreed that the checklist does incorporate most of the points brought up in the meetings.  It was agreed that the environment created by legislation adhering to the checklist, as adapted by the working group to render it more relevant to circumstances in Malta, would give the opportunity for all NGOs to feel comfortable within or without the legislative parameters.

 

The adapted ICNL checklist is appended to this Memorandum.

 


 

Characteristics of Not-for-Profit Organisations

 

For the purposes of this memorandum, the primary characteristics of such organisations (also known as voluntary organisations), as stated in the Commonwealth Foundation’s NGO guidelines for good policy and practice, are as follows:

 

1. Voluntary:

This means:

a. they are formed voluntarily: there is nothing in the legal, statutory framework of any country which requires them to be formed or prevents them from being formed; and

b. there will be an element of voluntary participation in the organisation: whether in the form of small numbers of board members or large numbers of members or beneficiaries giving their time voluntarily.

The word "voluntary" distinguishes NGOs operating in democratic societies from government - i.e. statutory - agencies. It thus has two meanings in the definition. Insofar as the formation of NGOs is concerned it means non-compulsory, or non statutory - i.e. formed voluntarily.

It also means that there is an element of unpaid voluntary work contributed to the organisation, most commonly by Board members not receiving payment for their work (see note 3 below), but also (and possibly on a large scale in some organisations) by voluntary, unpaid work performed by members and/or beneficiaries. It should be stressed, however, that it is wrong to assume or require that all NGOs are or should be characterised by being entirely or largely dependent on voluntary labour.

 

2. Independent:

Within the laws of society, they are controlled by those who have formed them, or by Boards of Management to which such people have delegated, or are required by law to delegate, responsibility for control and management.

The term "Board(s) of Management" is used as a general descriptive one. The constitutions of individual NGOs and/or the laws under which they register and function may use other terms, such as "Trustee(s)", "Director(s)", etc.

 

 

3. Not-for-profit:

They are not for personal private profit or gain, although:

a.NGOs may have employees, like other enterprises, who are paid for what they do. But in NGOs, the employers - Boards of Management - are not paid for the work they perform on Boards, beyond (most commonly) being reimbursed for expenses they incur in the course of performing their Board duties.

b.NGOs may engage in revenue-generating activities. They do not, however, distribute profits or surpluses to shareholders or members. They use revenues generated solely in pursuit of their aims.

Depending on the nature of the organisations, Boards may be selected or elected. Boards may also include, as voting members, paid employees of the organisation, usually in a minority, or co- opted to be in attendance without having voting rights. In such cases they are, like other

Board members, not paid for their attendance or work on Boards, but for their other duties.

 

4. Not self-serving in aims and related values:

The aims of NGOs are:

a. to improve the circumstances and prospects of disadvantaged people who are unable to realise their potential or achieve their full rights in society, through direct or indirect forms of action; and/or

b. to act on concerns and issues which are detrimental to the well-being, circumstances or prospects of people or society as a whole.

These aims give NGOs clear values and purposes which distinguish them from other organisations existing primarily to serve the interests of members or individuals.

The forms of action include self-help and people's organisations formed by or among disadvantaged people in order to help themselves and reduce inequalities between themselves and other sections of society.

(Commonwealth Foundation, 1995, pp.18-20)

 

 


 

Council of Europe document

 

Another important document consulted by the group is 'The Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organisations and Their Role in a Pluralistic Democracy: Guidelines to promote the development and strengthening of NGOs in Europe" (Council of Europe, 1998).  This document details the key issues of NGO legislation and NGO 'best practice.’

 

It recommends, for example, exactly what the regulator should ask of the NGOs in terms of documentation so that there is a minimum margin for discretion; it explains the need for checks and balances which benefit the regulator, the NGO itself as well as the general public; it acknowledges the changing face of the NGO and recommends actions that will make the day-to-day life of the NGO practicable; it emphasises the notion of 'non-distribution' as being of the essence.  Article 23, on the critical issue of government-NGO consultation, was quoted at the beginning of this memorandum. 

 

One of the issues discussed at length during the meetings of the working group was that of 'self-regulation'.  The Council of Europe document interestingly states:

"Self-regulation is most prevalent and successful in countries where the legal system for NGOs is most highly developed. This suggests that both the laws governing NGOs and the sector's own awareness of the need for ever higher standards go hand in hand." (Council of Europe, 1998)

 

The document also suggests that the introduction of a Code of Conduct is a strong message to all "interested parties that the NGO has standards and takes meaningful steps to enforce them" (Council of Europe, 1998).

 

A collection of the most salient Articles is appended to this Memorandum.

 


 

REFERENCES

 

 

Commonwealth Foundation (prepared by Colin Ball and Leith Dunn). (1995). NGO

 

   guidelines for good policy and practice. London: Author. 

 

Council of Europe. (1998). The Legal Status of Non-Governmental Organisations and

 

    Their Role in a Pluralistic Democracy: Guidelines to promote the development and

 

     strengthening of NGOs in Europe. Report of conclusions of the multilateral

 

     meeting The legal status of NGOs and their role in a pluralist society, organised by

 

     the Council of  Europe in cooperation with the Japan Foundation.  Strasbourg:

 

     Author. Retrieved March 24, 2004 from the World Wide Web: http://www.coe.int/

 

     T/E/NGO/public/Convention_124/_Meeting_reports/The_legal_status_of non-

 

     governmental_organisations_and_their_role_in_a_pluralist_democracy.asp

 

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law. (n.d.).  Checklist for NPO Laws [Online

    textfile]. Washington, D.C: Author. Retrieved February 22, 2004 from the World

    Wide Web: http://www.icnl.org/gendocs/cheklist.htm

 

  


 

APPENDIX A

 

INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR NOT-FOR-PROFIT LAW

 

 “CHECKLIST FOR NPO LAWS”

[AS ADAPTED BY THE NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS WORKING GROUP]

 

 

1. Protecting Fundamental Freedoms

 

1.1: Creation of an NPO: Protecting fundamental freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly means that NPOs should be allowed freely to come into existence.  It also means that NPOs should not be required to obtain legal personality in order to engage in lawful activities.

 

1.2: Registration (Incorporation) of NPOs.   Laws governing NPOs should be written and administered so that it is relatively quick, easy, and inexpensive for all persons (including natural and legal persons) to register or incorporate an NPO as a legal person.         

           

1.3:  Registration or Incorporation Organ.  The organ of the state that is vested with the responsibility for giving legal existence to NPOs should be adequately staffed with competent professionals, it should be even-handed in fulfilling its role, and its decisions not to register NPOs should be appealable to an independent court.  If the registration or incorporation organ is a court, its adverse decisions should be appealable to a higher court.

 

1.4:  Public Registry.  Whether NPOs are registered or incorporated in one or many locations, there should be a single, national registry of all NPOs that is accessible to the public (in addition to any local public registries that may exist).

           

1.5:  Termination, Dissolution, and LiquidationThe highest governing body of an NPO should be permitted to voluntarily terminate its activities, dissolve it as a legal person, and liquidate its assets pursuant to the decision of a court and upon application by the organisation.  The registration or supervisory organ or court should be allowed to involuntarily terminate an NPO’s existence only for the most flagrant of violations, and then only after a requested correction of a legal or ethical violation has not occurred.  To ensure that fundamental rights are not violated, all involuntary terminations should be subject to judicial supervision.

     

1.6: Permitted Purposes and Activities

            (a) In general, NPOs should be treated like all other legal entities and be permitted to engage in activities for the benefit of their members and in public benefit or “charitable” activities.

            (b) NPOs are key participants in framing and debating issues of public policy and should have the right to speak freely about all matters of public significance, including debate about and criticism of existing or proposed state policies and actions.

            (c) [ommision ]

 

1.6: Qualification for Public Benefit Status. Where it is thought appropriate to establish a separate state organ to determine whether an organisation qualifies for public benefit or charitable status, such an entity should be an independent, mixed commission (with representatives of the public, the government, and the NPOs themselves), similar to the Charity Commission of England and Wales.

 

1.7 Media Access. NPOs should have access to media outlets to publicize their activities, including state-owned media, where such exist, (addition) with tax benefits for media organisations that provide 'pro bono' publicity for NPOs.

 

2. Integrity and Good Governance

 

2.1:  Mandatory Provisions for Governing Documents.  The laws governing NPOs should require that certain minimum provisions necessary to the operation and governance of the organisation be stated in the governing documents of an NPO.  The requirements may be different for membership and nonmembership organisations, with the latter possibly being required to have additional governing bodies (e.g., supervisory boards, audit commissions, etc.) because they do not have members.

 

2.2:  Optional Provisions for Governing DocumentsLaws governing NPOs should give an NPO (through its highest governing body) broad discretion to set and change the governance structure and operations of the organisation within the limits provided by the law.

 

2.3: Internal Reporting and Supervision: Duties and Liabilities of Governing Bodies and Their Members.  The highest governing body of an NPO (or its delegate) should be required by law to receive and approve reports on the finances and operations of an NPO. The law should provide that officers and board members of an NPO have a duty to exercise loyalty to the organisation, to execute their responsibilities to the organisation with care and diligence, and to maintain the confidentiality of non-public information about the organisation.

 

2.4:  Prohibition on Conflicts of Interest. Careful consideration should be given to whether and the extent to which the law should provide that founders, officers, board members, and employees of an NPO must avoid any actual or potential conflict between their personal or business interests and the interests of the NPO.

     

2.5:  Prohibition on the Distribution of Profits and Other Private Benefits.

            (a) Laws governing NPOs should provide that no earnings or profits of an NPO may be distributed as such to founders, members, officers, board members, or employees.

            (b) Laws governing NPOs should provide that no NPO should be permitted to distribute assets to its founders, members, officers, board members, or employees upon the dissolution of the NPO.

            (c) Laws governing NPOs should provide that the assets, earnings, and profits of an NPO may not be used to provide special personal benefits, directly or indirectly, (e.g., scholarships for relatives) to any founders, members, officers, board members, employees, or donors connected with the NPO.

 

2.6:  Methods and Subjects of Voluntary Self-RegulationAlthough basic standards of conduct and requirements for governance of all NPOs should be enacted as published laws, NPOs should be permitted and encouraged to set higher standards of conduct and performance through self-regulation and codes of ethics. 

 

2.7: Umbrella Organisations. The laws should permit and the society should encourage the formation of umbrella organisations to adopt and enforce principles of voluntary self-regulation.

 

3. Financial Sustainability

 

3.1: Fundraising Activities -- General RuleNPOs should be permitted to engage in all legally acceptable and culturally appropriate fundraising activities, including door-to-door, telephone, direct mail, television, etc., campaigns, lotteries, raffles, and other fundraising events.  Lotteries, charity balls, auctions, and other occasional activities conducted primarily to raise funds for an NPO are a form of fundraising and should not be regarded as economic or commercial activities.

 

3.2:  Fundraising Activities -- Limitations, Standards, and Remedies.  Fundraising through a public solicitation method should require registration with a state organ or an independent supervisory organ, which will issue permits, badges, and other identification materials to the fund raisers, set standards for public solicitation activities, provide information to the public, and sanction inappropriate conduct.

 

3.3:  Economic Activities.  An NPO should be permitted to engage in lawful economic, business, or commercial activities, provided that (i) the NPO is organized and operated principally for the purpose of conducting appropriate not-for-profit activities (e.g., culture, education, health, etc.), and (ii) that no profits or earnings are distributed as such to founders, members, officers, board members, or employees.  Such activities may be engaged in provided that the appropriate requirements for licensing and permits are met.

 

3.4:  Income or Profits Tax Exemption for NPOs.  Every NPO, whether organized for mutual benefit or for public benefit, and whether a membership or nonmembership organisation, should be exempt from income taxation on moneys or other items of value received from donors or governmental organs (by grant or contract) and regular membership dues, if any.  A variety of approaches may be taken with respect to exemption for interest, dividends, or capital gains earned on assets or the sale of assets, with greater preferences on such items generally being made available to public benefit NPOs.  (addition) Clear criteria for eligibility for such exemptions, and the procedures for application, should be published by the tax authorities.

 

3.5:  Income Tax Benefits for Donations.  To encourage philanthropy and good citizenship, donations of individuals and business entities to public benefit NPOs should be entitled to reasonably generous income tax benefits (such as deductions or credits).

 

3.6:  Taxation of Economic Activities.  NPOs should be allowed to engage in economic activities as long as those activities do not constitute the principal purpose or activity of the organisation.  Any net profit earned by an NPO from the active conduct of a trade or business could be --

 

      (a)  exempted from income taxation,

      (b)  subjected to income taxation,

      (c)  subjected to income taxation only if the trade or business is not related to and in furtherance of the not-for-profit purposes of the organisation, or

(d)     subjected to income taxation under a mechanical test that allows a modest amount of profits from economic activities to escape taxation but imposes tax on amounts in excess of the limit.

(e)     (addition) exempted from income taxation of unrelated economic activity if the work is performed by volunteers.

           

3.7:  VAT, other taxes, and customs duties.  Public benefit NPOs and their activities should be given preferential treatment under a value added tax (VAT), other taxes (e.g., property taxes), and customs duties provided that appropriate limitations are in place to guard against fraud and abuse.

 

3.8:  Support for Endowments.  The laws should contain provisions that support the formation and maintenance of endowments.  These include special tax incentives for donations to form endowments, prudent investment policies, etc. 

 

3.9:  Foreign Funding.  An NPO that is properly registered or incorporated should generally be allowed to receive cash or in-kind donations or transfers from aid agencies of another country, a multilateral agency, or an institutional or individual donor located in another country, as long as all generally applicable foreign exchange and customs laws are satisfied.

 

3.10:    Volunteers.  The laws should encourage volunteers to work for NPOs, by encouraging employers to permit employees to have time off for such work. 

 

3.11:    NGO-government partnerships.  The laws, including the procurement legislation where appropriate, should contain provisions that encourage partnership between government and NGOs, providing for government financing of projects carried out by NGOs, through grants and contracts.

 

4. Accountability and Transparency

 

4.1:  Reporting Generally. To the maximum feasible extent, all reports required of NPOs should be as simple to complete and as uniform among state organs as is possible.

 

4.2:  Reporting to Supervisory Organ.   

            (a) Any NPO having significant public benefit activities or with substantial public support should be required to file appropriate reports at least annually on its finances and operations with the appropriate organ (court, ministry, organ of local administration, or specialized organ) that is responsible for general supervision of NPOs.

            (b) All reporting requirements should contain appropriate provisions to protect the legitimate privacy interests of donors and recipients of benefits as well as the protection of confidential or proprietary information.

 

4.3: Audit by Supervisory Organ.

            (a) Consistent with the normal state powers of inspection for all legal entities, the supervisory organ should have the right to examine the books, records, and activities of an NPO during ordinary business hours, with adequate advance notice.  This audit power should not be used to inhibit the freedom of association of the individuals connected with the organisation nor to harass the organisation.

            (b) To ensure compliance with the laws, all reporting NPOs should be subject to random and selective audit by the supervisory organ, but such audits should not be used to harass organisations or individuals connected with them.

 

4.4:  Reporting to and Audit by Tax Authorities.  It is appropriate for separate reports to be filed with the taxing authority(ies). Different kinds of reports may be required for different kinds of taxes (e.g., profits taxes, VAT).

 

4.5:  Reporting to and Audit by Licensing Organs.  Any NPO engaged in an activity subject to licensing by a state organ should be required to file the same reports with that organ as individuals or business organisations are required to file.

 

4.6:  Disclosure or Availability of Information to the PublicAny NPO with significant activities or assets or with substantial public support should be required to publish or make available to the public a report of its general finances and operations; this report may be less detailed than the reports filed with the general supervisory organ, the taxing authority(ies), or any licensing organ and should permit anonymity for donors and recipients of benefits in addition to protecting confidential or proprietary information.

 

4.7:  Special Sanctions:  In addition to the general sanctions to which an NPO is subject equally with other legal persons (e.g., contract or tort law), it is appropriate to have special sanctions (e.g., fines or penalty taxes, or the possibility of involuntary termination) for violations peculiar to NPOs (e.g., self-dealing, improper public fundraising practices, special rules contained in tax legislation).

 


 

APPENDIX B

 

EXCERPTS FROM

 

“THE LEGAL STATUS OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS AND THEIR ROLE IN A PLURALISTIC DEMOCRACY: GUIDELINES TO PROMOTE THE DEVELOPMENT AND STRENGTHENING OF NGO’S IN EUROPE”

 

 

Council of Europe

Strasbourg, 1998

 

 

THE LEGAL STATUS OF NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS AND THEIR ROLE IN A PLURALISTIC DEMOCRACY

 Guidelines to promote the development and strengthening of NGOs in Europe

Conclusions of the multilateral meeting organised by the Council of Europe in co-operation with the Japan Foundation, “The legal status of NGO’s and their role in a pluralist society”

Strasbourg, 23 - 25 March 1998

(excerpts)

10. When an NGO is established it normally becomes a separate legal person. That generally means that the NGO and not its members, is liable for its debts, contracts, and obligations. Only an established NGO may be eligible for government grants or tax breaks.

 (…)

12. The principal documents that should be required to be filed in establishing an NGO are the governing documents of the organisation, which should adequately state the nature and purpose of the organisation, provide for an adequate governance structure, state the powers and limitations of the organisation, identify the founders, directors, and officers, state the location of the principal headquarters, and identify a legal representative.

 

13. The administrative process for the registration of NGOs should be applied with a minimum margin of discretion provided. The government ministry or agency responsible for the registration of NGOs should publish rules and regulations applicable, and forms that explain the process. It should provide assistance to NGOs that are seeking formal legal status, and it should be required to provide a written statement of reasons for any refusal to register an NGO.

Decisions not to register an NGO or to terminate one should be appealable, both administratively and to an independent court.

In some countries it may be found appropriate that it be the courts that function as the registering body.

(…)

16. NGOs that seek grants, contracts, tax preferences, or other concessions, should be required to register so that agencies of the government can determine what NGOs have been established and what their purposes, powers, and limitations are. In addition any individual or legal person doing business with an NGO (e.g. leasing it space, selling goods, recruiting staff) should be able to determine whether it has been established as a recognized legal person. It is also important that the public have access to this information. For their own protection, citizens need to be able to check whether a purported NGO that seeks their support is really established or not.

 

17. Laws governing NGOs should provide that no net earnings or profits of an NGO may be distributed as such to any person.

 

NGOs should be allowed to engage in economic activities so long as the principal purpose of the NGO is to pursue a public purpose or the mutual benefit of its members. If an NGO does derive net profits from an economic activity, they must be used for the public or mutual benefit purposes for which it was formed, and they must not be distributed to any person. This principle of non-distribution is the most important feature distinguishing NGOs from for-profit entities.

18. The law should permit an NGO, in its governing documents or by resolution, to designate another similar NGO to which any assets remaining after the payment of all debts and obligations should go. In some situations, large donors may have imposed a contractual obligation that funds received from it be returned in the event of termination. A good practice is for an NGO to select another NGO engaged in the same or a very similar kind of activity to receive its assets upon termination.

(…)

20. An NGO that is properly established in one country should generally be allowed to solicit and receive cash or in-kind donations or transfers from another country, a multilateral agency, or an institutional or individual donor in another country, so long as all generally applicable foreign exchange and customs laws are satisfied.

 

Generally speaking, the rules should be the same for foreign and domestic funding. If domestic funders must be disclosed in annual reports, the same rules should apply to foreign funders. If domestic funders are entitled to support any legal activity that is permissible for domestic NGOs to engage in, foreign funders should be entitled to the same privileges.

21. NGOs and governments should in each appropriate sector establish mechanisms for dialogue, consultation and exchange in a spirit of openness and with the overriding objective of searching for optimum solutions to society's needs and problems.

Such consultative mechanisms are neither a competition with nor a replacement for the roles played by political parties, trade unions, employers' associations or commercial lobbies.

 

22. The existence of and participation in government-NGO consultative mechanisms neither guarantees nor precludes government subsidies, contracts or donations to individual NGOs or groups of NGOs. No consultation should be viewed by government as a vehicle to coopt NGOs to government priorities, nor by NGOs as an inducement to abandon their goals and principles.

23. It goes without saying that such government-NGO consultations should take place at all stages of the drafting of legislation and administrative decrees that affect and frame NGO status, financing or spheres of influence. NGOs should acquire the expertise to make competent input to all aspects of such discussions, whether political or technical. Appropriate training in relevant fields including managerial skills should be encouraged. 

24. Government-NGO trust and partnership take time to establish and develop. In some countries it may be found useful for the government to designate an office or a person as the focal point for channeling NGO contacts.

 (…)

32. The NGO sector must be concerned to demonstrate its commitment to effectiveness, accountability, high standards, participatory processes, good governance, voluntary ethics, equal opportunities, and probity of staff at all levels.

 

33. Self-regulation is most prevalent and successful in countries where the legal system for NGOs is most highly developed. This suggests that both the laws governing NGOs and the sector's own awareness of the need for ever higher standards go hand in hand. Responsible NGOs are increasingly aware that the success of their sector depends to a large extent on whether the public regards it as efficient, effective, and ethical. Further, self-regulatory codes are often developed to enable groups of NGOs working in a specific sector to deal with the particular needs and challenges of that sector.

 

34. The adoption and internal enforcement of a clear, strong code of conduct is a powerful statement to donors, beneficiaries, and other interested parties that the NGO has standards and takes meaningful steps to enforce them. Replicated by numerous NGOs in any society, the process of adopting and enforcing codes of conduct can measurably raise the actual and perceived status and integrity of the sector. 

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••

 


[1] NPO, or Not-for-Profit Organisations, is the preferred term of the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

 

ADDENDUM

 

Some comments made during the meeting of NGOs during which the Memorandum was discussed.

 

• A certain amount of discussion took place, at the general NGO meeting, over article IV of the Commonwealth definition of NGO. This article did provoke discussion within the Working Group although it was decided to retain it in the final document. The representatives seemed to feel that article IV might exclude certain types of valid NGO and that the wording was focussed on the negative rather than the positive. It was agreed that these doubts would be mentioned in the Addendum so that the article could receive special attention during discussions about the important issue of 'what is an NGO?'.

 

• After much discussion within the Working Group, one or two minor changes were made to the I.N.C.L. guidelines. Most of these are additions which are clearly visible in the document (in bold). However, there is one omission which should be explained regarding point 1.6 c. In the original document this point refers to licensing and regulation. Members of the Working Group felt that this kind of regulation should be left to domestic laws as such regulation from within the NGO legislation could be used to curtail the activities of certain NGOs.

 

• Statement from Moviment Graffitti: Moviment Graffitti believes in accountability and transparency. However, Moviment Garffitti does not agree with the inclusion of the last clause in the I.C.N.L. guidelines (4.7 Special Sanctions) which states that the not-for-profit organisation law can take criminal action against NPOs. Moviment Garffitti believes that domestic laws already exist to curb criminal action. The NPO legislation should deal with administrative matters and not act as criminal laws which already exist.

 

• Statement from Touring Club Malta (free translation from Maltese): Touring Club Malta is worried about the financial burden of having to pay an Accountant or an Auditor. TCM is suggesting that every NGO produce its accounts and that there should be a general fund from which Accountants and Auditors could be financed. Another slightly worrying factor is that groups may be financially penalised if they do not send in replies (e.g. for statistical purposes) within the set deadline. TCM feels that voluntary work should be encouraged and that excessive regulation would be counter productive. While TCM recognises that there are many people willing to give their time, it feels that these people would be put off if they feel under pressure.

 
 

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