Draft law on NGOs and ‘socially useful services’
The state Duma is preparing to introduce a draft law on NGOs – ‘the providers of socially useful services’
Representatives of relevant agencies, members of the Presidential Council for Human Rights and the Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation discussed the status of the implementation of the presidential instructions on giving non-commercial organisations the status of ‘providers of socially useful services’ and the development of a programme for non-commercial organisations to gain access to regional social programmes in the social sphere with the First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Administration Vyacheslav Volodin.
Elena Topoleva, member of the Civil Chamber of the Russian Federation said that the draft law, which provides the opportunity for NGOs to be given the status of ‘provider of socially useful services’, will soon be submitted to the State Duma. At the moment, the document is being prepared by deputies with support from members of the working group on NGOs under the Presidential Administration.
In December 2015, President Vladimir Putin requested the introduction of legislative amendments to give NGOs the possibility of taking on the status of ‘provider of socially useful services’ and the provision of preferences for such organisations.
A minimum list of ‘socially useful services’ will be approved by government authorisation. “The authorisation will include a basic list of services. The list of services can vary depending on the changes in the social priorities of the state. The authorisation, theoretically speaking, can be released each year, and there may be some changes in the list of services. Regions can supplement the list at their discretion depending on which services are in demand at the time, which is an important part,” said Topoleva.
Today this list in particular is expected to include both services in the public sector, which are provided for by the Federal law on the fundamentals of social services, as well as services that are not provided for by this law, for instance, services for the prevention of child neglect and juvenile delinquency, prevention of social orphanhood, for social adaptation and family placement of children left without parental care. Furthermore, the list is expected to include services in the areas of education, health, development of physical culture and mass sports and in the field of assessing the quality of services rendered by the organisations in the social sphere.
The approval procedure for the status of ‘provider of socially useful services’ should be as simple as possible, Topoleva stressed. The Ministry of Justice of the RF will maintain a register of organisations and its territorial bodies, which will include organisations in the registry at the request of the relevant executive authority. There will be a request form that the relevant executive authority must forward to the Ministry of Justice. Attached to this will be an agreement between the organisation and the authority confirming that the organisation has already been providing social services for a few years and a document confirming that the work has been carried out successfully and that customers were satisfied.
The President’s order involves the provision of ‘benefits and preferences’ for these organisations. “‘Providers of socially useful services’ will receive preferential treatment, but remain without benefits for now”, says Topoleva. “In our current economic situation, officials are not ready to provide relief on donations from legal entities, which would be essential for NGOs. This will be considered when the situation improves. This status is a sign of quality in the sphere of social services. It is expected that organisations given this status will been given preference when working in the social services market. We can expect that the authorities will be more willing to support these organisations.”
Topoleva said that there is a huge problem regarding instability of NGOs which are providing social services at the moment. She expressed hope that the new status will give organisations a more sustainable existence. “It should make NGOs more sustainable and strengthen their position. Worldwide revenue from the provision of services is one of the major sources of funding for NGOs. And in some countries it is the main source.” Furthermore, this should benefit citizens and be helped along by increased competition in the market for social services, she said. Citizens will be given a choice and, in the end, they will receive a better quality service.
Author: Grigory Ivanushkin