The need for a regulatory body for the island’s more than 1000 charities has been brought to the fore once again.
National Coordinator of the Global Environment Facility and Small Grants Programme of the United Nations Development Programme, David Bynoe, reiterated calls for the establishment of a local charity commission to police locally registered charities while speaking at a consultation hosted by the Caribbean Policy Development Centre (CPDC)
While praising civil society and non-governmental organizations for being a critical point of public support as Government tackled the country’s economic crisis, Boyce said the present system created challenges for efficient management and financing.
The UNDP representative suggested the skills sets of retired persons could be used to the benefit of charities.
“That is social capital that is now being left idle that we can mobilize,” he said.
The officer in charge of the CPDC, Richard Jones supported Boyce’s call for regulation and legislation. Jones said the lack of standard operational procedures among these bodies created inconsistencies in processes and taxation.
“There is a lack of standardized criteria for accessing tax concessions. Many NGOs are unaware of the ability or process by which to apply for tax concessions and exemptions they may stand to benefit from.
“Additionally, state agents due to the lack of codified and accepted NGO tax incentives criteria, may in fact unevenly apply the law to NGOs which seek tax relief for non-profit projects,” said Jones.
The CPDC chief officer said strong legislation would ensure CSOs and NGOs were able to thrive in an enabling environment as the country buckled under financial pressure.
“Our “third sector” can be a source of foreign exchange to the island and has the potential to contribute much more to the economy. Many national as well as regionally focused NGOs based on the island draw on international developing assistance for their work, thereby attracting foreign exchange to the local economy. We are a far way from maximizing our capacity to mobilize such resources for non-profit development projects,” Jones said.
Both men may not have to wait much long for the proposed legislation as Minister of Labour and Social Partnership Relations, Colin Jordan, confirmed his ministry’s commitment to safeguarding the NGO sector through programmes and the appropriate legislation.
In his feature address at the event, the minister said the collaboration will redound to the benefit of Barbados and Barbadians.
“In the long term, you would be in a better position to provide assistance to those communities where Government agencies may fall short,” the minister said.