NGOs and government support

Are NGOs willing to exchange rights for
additional government support?


was discussed at a hearing organised by the Public Chamber committee for the
development of the third sector and co-operation with public chambers of the subjects
of the Russian Federation (RF) and its committee for social policy, labour
relations and quality of life. The subject of the hearing was, Mutual Co-operation between Government and
Third Sector Organisations: Support in return for (Legal) Obligations.


leading figure dealing with the sector at the Russian Academy of Sciences, Mr A
Avtonomov, pointed out that the term ‘support’ is usually used in a situation
where the recipients would not otherwise get by. He preferred the term
‘co-operation’ or ‘joint working’. He added that it would make sense to impose
further restrictions on NGOs only if the conditions applying to their
operations were improved at the same time e.g. through a relaxed tax regime. He
stressed that: ‘If the legislation applying to NGOs were to be amended then the
tax code should be as well. It should all be dealt with as a package.’ He said
that the problems in Russia stemmed not so much from the legislation as from
the way it was implemented.


Zelkova, deputy chair of the public chamber’s committee for the development of
charity and volunteering, considered that in recent years NGOs had ‘taken
duties upon themselves haphazardly in order to show themselves in a better
light’ but the government ‘had no wish to give any quid pro quo’. Her view was
that making concessions had been a one way street. In future, placing
additional constraints on NGOs should be conditional on granting a favourable
tax status, which was popular in many countries with organisations that wish to
and are capable of complying with more onerous requirements.


Jacobson, first pro-rector of the School of Advanced Economics and Boris
Rudnik,  director of the Institute of
State Resource Management, suggested that development of  the non-commercial sector would be assisted
if a new legal entity were to be introduced in the form of a ‘non-commercial
company’. For this purpose it would be necessary to prescribe in detail the
means by which founders, members, and donors might exercise control over the decisions
taken by the executive bodies within NGOs, together with the responsibilities
of the functionaries; and also rules for the conduct of business activities and
procedures for the use of resources received. Currently, the government is not
totally convinced that NGOs which talk about socially significant goals also go
on to pursue them in practice, explained Mr Rudnik. The representatives of the
advanced school of economics thought that the institution of the
‘non-commercial company’ would on the one hand stimulate the development of
socially worthwhile initiatives on the part of individuals and corporations
and, on the other, allow the government to increase the level of support
afforded to socially significant NGOs which had been set up as non-commercial


participants in the meeting wanted the legislation appertaining to all NGOs to
be improved regardless of their legal form. Presidential adviser and chair of
the presidential committee on the development of civil society and rights,
Mikhail Fedotov, was sure that this could be achieved via the Non-commercial
Organisations Federal Law No 7 and the federal tax code. This would not entail
massive transformations of NGOs into a new kind of organisation or the need to
re-register. If an organisation did not want to claim additional opportunities
for some reason, it would continue to operate as before.


the introduction of a new legal entity might lead to imbalances in the
financing of the non-commercial sector. Currently state subsidies were
delivered through a system of ‘presidential grants’, the support programme for
socially significant NGOs and other competitions to non-commercial bodies of
various organisational/juridical types. The participants thought this line was











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