The International NGO Forum Bangladesh (INGO Forum) has noted with grave concern the statement by Chairperson of the cabinet committee on law and order affairs and Honourable Mr. AKM Mozammel Haque Minister for Liberation Affairs published in the local media on March 13, 2019, that ‘NGOs” have been allegedly spending for their own benefit as high as 75 percent of funds brought to Bangladesh to help Rohingyas. They are alleged to have spent some Tk 150 crore as hotel expenses in 6 months, while other staggering amounts were reportedly being spent for per diems, residences and transportation of the staff of the agencies. Some are also allegedly operating in the region with some unspecified “ill motives”.
The INGO Forum expresses solidarity with the Hon’ble Minister, and conveys its gratitude to him for bringing these allegations to public attention. We fully understand the reasons for the Hon’ble Minister’s concern, because in our understanding operational costs need to be rational and within standard limits.
We draw kind attention of the Hon’ble Minister that a number of UN agencies, international NGOs and national NGOs are working together with the Government in support of Rohingya operations. While united in their mission to help the Rohingyas, each of these institutions has its own form of governance, operational modalities and budgeting.
We would like to assure the Hon’ble Minister and all concerned that international NGOs working to help the Rohingyas abide by the strictest financial rules and regulations, following and the Government approved operational cost standards, with no allowance for excessive overheads. All our operations including our programmes related to the Rohingyas are carried out only subject to specific approval of the NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB) of the Government operating under the Office of the Hon’ble Prime Minister. These are specific projects approved by the NGOAB based on specific programmatic and financial details including programme-related itemized budgets with approved limit for administrative overhead expenses.
We ensure strictest compliance of the relevant rules and regulations to minimize all categories of operational expenses including per diems, accommodation and transportation. Each of us also regularly and systematically report to the NGOAB to ensure our accountability. All our programmes and finances are independently evaluated and audited.
As such, the INGO Forum assures the Hon’ble Ministers and all concerned that INGOs are not party to allegations in question, and we remain open and fully supportive of any investigations that may be undertaken by the relevant authorities. We are also ready to provide any information relevant to our operations needed for public scrutiny for the sake of transparency and accountability.