NGO Federation of Nepal (NFN) accomplished the workshop on "Multistakeholder Dialogue on Civic Space and Enabling Environment" on March 23, 2018 in Kathmandu. The workshop was organized as an open discussion forum on the legal and operational challenges experienced by Nepalese CSOs and the role of CSOs in the changed political context, with some key action points towards building an enabling environment for CSOs in the federal restructuring of the country.
The workshop was chaired by Mr. Gopal Lamsal, President of NFN. Honorable Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizen Tham Maya Thapa attended the workshop program as chief guest. There were altogether 73 participants (male 52 and female 21) representing more than 50 different CSOs, networks, coalitions, alliances, federations, media, international NGOs, bureaucrats, independent lawyers including NFN Advisors and NFN district chapters (Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur).
The workshop started with the presentation by Mr. Daya Sagar Shrestha, Executive Director of NFN. He highlighted on the issues and concerns of CSOs incorporated in the common position paper developed by CSOs' coalition led by NFN. Then, Mr. Krishna Gautam, Senior Vice President of NFN gave presentation on the CSOs' roadmap. His presentation comprised of the contents like contributions, opportunities, challenges and way forwards for CSOs working at national, provincial and local levels. Following these presentations, floor was open for discussion.
Key issues discussed in the program were as follows:
- Categorization of profit-oriented and not-for-profit CSOs based on their nature of work
- Policy as well as practices related to tax and VAT system. Uniformity in practices and CSOs-friendly policy environment was discussed.
- Alternative institution in place of Social Welfare Council. The council was said to be threatening CSOs in the name of monitoring.
- Need to organize consultation on CSOs position paper and roadmap at provinces – so that the voices of local CSOs could be captured.
- Raised the concern that the Government of Nepal should provide space to Nepalese CSOs to engage in the law making process
- Drawbacks of CSOs, degrading public image and the need to improve the image by actions rather than words
In the event, Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens acknowledged the contributions of CSOs in social development sector of Nepal. She appreciated the roles of CSOs in empowering communities and raising awareness and at the same time suggested CSOs to focus on economic development in the changed socio-political context. Further, she said that it is a crucial stage for the Nepalese state to harness potentialities of resources and move on the path to sustainable development. So, she urged that we all actors need to work together to instigate development and prosperity in Nepal. It is a time to develop new laws, by-laws, and policies and also to modify existing laws, and policies in the interest of state development. She assured that she will think on encompassing the suggestions, feedbacks and concerns of CSOs mentioned in the common position paper during her tenure.
At the end of the program, Mr. Gopal Lamsal, President of NFN summarized and reiterated the issues, challenges, and problems of CSO as discussed in the program. He urged to the Minister to address CSOs' concerns while developing and modifying laws. He wished the Minister a successful tenure and ended the program by thanking to all the participants for their valuable presence and inputs.