Calls for Russian SONGOs to be given municipal tasks

Moscow, 18.12.2015

In the Council for Local Government under the Chairman of the Council of the Federation there is a view that socially oriented NGOs (SONGOs) can play a role in raising the efficiency of local government authorities by working with them and having a public regulatory role over them.

The Council for Local Government under the Chairman of the Council of the Federation recommended that part of the functions of local government should be more actively handed over to SONGOs, in a report published on its website. Galina Karelova, Chairman of the Council, said that it is known that there are many examples of the activity of SONGOs in reforming the social sphere, but few examples of their role in local government, despite the fact that logic dictates that SONGOs could significantly raise the level of efficiency of the work of local government, by working with them and having public oversight over them.

In Russia there are already examples of NGOs becoming fully fledged partners of municipalities in dealing with some of the toughest social problems, she said. The experience of the most successful regions in this area should be used and replicated, but at the same time it is essential to define how the role of NGOs could be improved in local government. New legislation is needed for such a mechanism, she stressed. Dmitri Azarov, Chairman of the Council of the Federation’s Committee on the Federal Structure, Regional Policies, Local Self-Governance and Affairs of the North, experience so far in the regions shows that working with SONGOs not only improves the quality of services, but leads to more efficient use of budgetary funds.

Earlier, President Putin asked the government to support not for profit organisations. In his address to the Federal Assembly, he said that in issues such as providing support to older people and people with disabilities, families and children, it was essential to entrust more to NGOs. He called for NGOs to have access to state funding. Experts think that it is be too soon to say whether this means that efforts to improve the role of NGOs will be successful.

By Georgi Ivanushkin

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