On Monday, NENO released a pre-election manifesto, outlining seven key areas where the next government can best contribute to the continuing development of civil society.
NENO acknowledges and praises the work of the outgoing government in preparing the Civil Society Development Plan 2011-14 and hopes that the new government will implement this plan by making it the responsibility of a specific ministry.
In addition, NENO has outlined seven key proposals that the new government should include in the coalition agreement:
1. Provide free, public access to all state-collected data regarding NGOs, including constitutions and annual reports; create a legal distinction between civil society organizations and state-founded or state-controlled non-profits (so-called GONGOs).
2. Review the gambling-tax-funded support system for NGOs by separating annual, operational funding requests from requests for special, one-off projects; by giving local government the power to evaluate smaller projects; and by including NGO representatives in the decision-making process.
3. Make it easier for NGOs to be added to the government’s list of tax deductible organizations, by removing the “charitable giving” clause from the eligibility list, keeping only the “working in the public interest” clause, and adding the “civil initiative” clause.
4. Develop and implement a system in every Government Ministry for providing operational support to NGOs working in the public interest.
5. In order to increase the participation of citizens and civil society organizations, create an online, easily accessible repository of government information, including national strategies, development plans, legislative and regulatory proposals, and other initiatives. This site should prominently note opportunities and deadlines for public comment.
6. Implement a community service program in public schools, providing an opportunity for students to intern at local non-profits.
7. Give taxpayers the option of choosing whether tax credits acquired through charitable giving should be returned to them or donated to the NGO as an additional gift.