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Rwanda’s New Draft Law Wants to Check NGO Spending

Charity organisations are also required to ensure that 80% of their budget is spent directly on vulnerable groups as Rwandan authorities say the new measure will help eliminate scams associated with NGO work.

Rwanda is putting forward a new legislation that aims to scrutinize the spending budgets of Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the country – as new requirements bar them from spending more than 20% of their budget on operational costs.

“Organisation has an obligation not to exceed 20 per cent of its operating budget in activity programmes that are not in the interest of their beneficiaries,” drafters of the law wrote in a document that was submitted to the country’s Parliament on April 18, 2024.

Charity organisations are also required to ensure that 80% of their budget is spent directly on vulnerable groups and so in order to keep them accountable, the government would require that they submit action plans and financial reports to districts and line ministries for approval.

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In the broad picture, Rwandan authorities say the measure will help eliminate scams associated with NGO work.

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“One of the most common forms of NGO scams is misappropriation of funds. Fraudulent NGOs often collect donations under the guise of supporting a noble cause but misuse the funds for personal expenses,” said local media outlet, the New Times.

The New Times also quoted an MP, Germaine Mukabalisa, who insists NGOs must be regulated, adding: “That is why the NGOs must submit action plans and sources of finance, and reports which must be monitored and approved. This will help eliminate scammers with empty promises.”

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But civil society groups say the government ought to have taken a consultative approach to the drafting of the law as the requirement to even submit financial records takes away organizations’ autonomy.

“Administration activities need a budget so that activities reach beneficiaries. Saying we must not exceed 20 per cent of the budget on administration activities might not be possible. We read that districts and ministries have to approve NGOs’ action plans and budget they spent, to monitor if NGOs accomplished what they pledged. We look forward to hearing more explanation as the committee analyses the draft law to have a common understanding,” Joseph Ryarasa Nkurunziza, Chairperson of Rwanda’s Civil Society Platform told local media.

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