President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday reiterated that the Government has the right to know the exceptionally large receipt and spending of funds in Sri Lanka.
“It is the right and responsibility of the government to monitor how Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) obtain funds and how they are spent,” President said during a meeting with the editors of print and electronic media yesterday at Temple Trees.
He said that many millions of rupees come into the country on a monthly and yearly basis and currently there is no mechanism to monitor from where they come from and how these funds are utilised.
“Three NGOs each have received over Rs. 500 million of funding,” Rajapaksa said adding that there is no accountability.
Joining the discussion, Minister of Mass Media and Information Keheliya Rambukwella said that such unmonitored fund inflows could even lead to money laundering, which is now a growing global concern.
He and President Rajapaksa said that individuals are questioned when a foreign remittance of much smaller value is received. It was pointed out that NGOs enjoy tax free status whereas Tax enforcement officers go after normal but qualifying citizens with regard to their dues.
Citing India as an example, the President said that almost no other country in the world allow organisations to bring large amounts of money into the country and spend them on projects of their own without any monitoring by the government.
‘Therefore, the government intends to work out a suitable policy to monitor their activities’, President Rajapaksa said. He pointed out that specific guideline are needed for NGOs to obtain funds through the correct methods and spend in a correct manner.
He emphasised that this is not an anti-NGO policy but a valid mechanism to ensure that the people benefit through such funds.