Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis supported the project of the NGO Fund Strategy
On April 18, representatives of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met with Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis to discuss the most important issues in the NGO sector. The main objective of the meeting was to discuss the situation regarding the draft law on the development of NGOs, prepared by the Ministry of Social Security and Labour, together with civil society organizations.
The PM expressed support for the NGO Development Law and promised to take immediate steps to ensure that the law is considered in the nearest session of the Seimas. The NGO Fund, which is envisaged in this draft law, should also be established as provided for in the Government’s Action Plan.
Currently, the draft Law on the Development of NGOs includes two fundamental amendments: to establish an NGO fund and to create an open database. The Prime Minister agreed to create an NGO fund that could be formed from a non-allocated percentage of non-profit entities from the GPM balance. The bill also proposes the creation of an NGO database that would ensure transparent distribution of public funding. An official NGO database, administered by the Register of Legal Persons, would become a credible open and free source of information about NGOs to public institutions and the public.
NGOs unite more than 1 million Lithuanian citizens who, thanks to the NGO Fund, would have the opportunity to participate more actively in public politics. Therefore, the NGO Fund could become a consolidated and strategic tool for strengthening the expertise of NGOs to participate effectively in public policy, decision-making and its implementation. Similar funds are already operating in Estonia, Latvia, Croatia and other Central and Eastern European countries.
Public funding to date has been dedicated only to some specific activities and services of the NGO sector. This is mainly short-term funding, almost never coordinated between departments. Most of the funding programmes cannot claim activities related to participation in public policy decisions, provision of recommendations to the state, decision-making monitoring, advocacy or quality evaluation of decision-making and public services. The need for a separate state funding mechanism for NGOs is now mature enough. It would fill in the afore-mentioned gaps and would make NGOs equally important partners of social dialogue with state institutions.
Photo: Darius Janulis