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Government to allocate grants for NGOs in Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, January 9
The Ministry of Justice will allocate grants for Non Government Organizations acting for the development of the state. A meeting between representatives of NGOs and the Deputy Minister of Justice Tina Burjaliani was held on January 6 concerning the issue.

According to changes in the law, the Ministry of Justice is enabled to allocate grants “based on the relevance and compatibility of NGOs. The Ministry of Justice is giving a real chance to NGOs to be involved in the process of the liberalization of criminal code policy,” Burjaliani said.

As Chairman of the Ministry’s Administration Andro Gigauri said, a competition for grants will soon be announced and he hoped that the NGOs would take part in it. “A competition will be declared for such serious and important issues as fighting against trafficking, suggesting needed services for those children in conflict with the law, and their reintegration in to society.”

The Ministry has already declared the first grant project on the aforementioned trafficking issue, which foresees allocating grants for NGOs to carry out an informative campaign and ensure an increase of the knowledge of Georgian society in this regard. The Ministry also informed that the term of carrying out a grant programme is three months (from February 1 to April 30, 2012). Two grant applications will be financed, the total sum of which is GEL 10,000, thus GEL 5,000 each. As for the requirements: the applicant should be a non commercial legal entity registered in Georgia; must not have tax debt; only one application can be presented; and no bankrupting business correspondence like reorganization or liquidation can have been carried out towards the entity.

Chairman of the NGO Association of Social workers Salome Namicheishvili said that such innovation is a positive, “as the decision will deepen relations between the state structures and non government organizations”.

According to Programme Director of the NGO International Transparency Georgia Nino Khatiskatsi, with time international donations to Georgian NGOs might be reduced, thus according to her the mobilization of the country’s inner resources and permitting of ministries to allocate grants to NGOs is important, however the process should be transparent. “In such a state as Georgia, NGOs mainly take grants from international organizations, however in the west grants are basically allocated by state structures and the business sector, which is normal,” she said and mentioned that the Georgian reality might impose some doubts and scepticism towards the NGOs which would take grants from state structures. “This is a serious challenge and thus financing must be carried out based on the exact practices which operate between foreign donors and NGOs. Criteria must be presented clearly.” Herewith, she also mentioned that if the Government is really interested in strengthening the civil sector some other measures are also very important. “Financing of the civil sector should be attractive. For example in many states businesses which donate to NGOs have some privileges regarding taxes …”

As for possible decreases in foreign donations, Khatiskatsi mentioned that such a forecast is quite realistic. “The first reason is that great assistance is currently being carried out by the international community, especially by the US. Financing will be reduced if they see that no real outcomes are being achieved and alternately in the event that such steps are carried out that the donors are waiting for. No country wishes to permanently spend the money it takes from its own taxpayers to strengthen another state’s civil society, even for the development of democracy.”