I agree with the Prime Minister's recent calls for greater transparency amongst NGOs operating in Cambodia, as an integral part of any forthcoming NGO law.
Any measure of greater transparency in operational aspects of both local and international NGOs in Cambodia - and in other LDC's around the world, for that matter - can only be constructive. It will reduce organizations' inefficiencies, increase accountability and will give greater credence to those organizations who are already operating in an effective and reasonable way.
Cambodia is home to one of the greatest densities of NGOs in the world. Given that one fundamental task of any nongovernmental organization is to promote and cultivate a functioning civil society, any evolution towards an environment of greater transparency should be lauded, not feared or resisted, by NGOs acting in this particular civil society.
This trend towards transparency is not limited to NGOs in Cambodia. As donor budgets around the world have become stretched, various resources have emerged that are designed to increase the transparency of nonprofit groups' operations (financial and otherwise) in order to ensure that donor and individual funding sources are effectively, wisely, and ethically spent.
For example, Guidestar.com, a website and database designed to provide financial information for US-based nonprofits and NGOs, exhibits organizations' staff salaries and other financial data openly and publicly, as per US law governing such groups (via downloadable PDFs of their tax returns)
US-based NGOs who are currently operating in Cambodia already exhibit some of their financial data, including key staff salaries, on the Guidestar.com website; that data, which is available to the general public, can be interesting and illuminating.
I suggest that a resource based on the Guidestar.com model, but tailored towards NGOs working in Cambodia, could feature the financial data of all local and international NGOs working here (staff salaries, funding sources, money spent, sustainable revenue generated, project reports) in a way that is accessible to the general public, Cambodian and foreigner alike.
The result will be an increased transparency in all directions, and a better ability for donors, potential donors and the Cambodian government to identify operational strengths and weaknesses of NGOs working here.
All of this information could therefore be an effective compliment to the eventual NGO law coming to Cambodia.
Send letters to: [email protected] or P.O.鈥圔ox 146, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. The Post reserves the right to edit letters to a shorter length.