NGO Transparency

by Difa Kusumadewi

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) are without doubt still needed by the community. NGOs in Indonesia have carried out various useful activities such as aiding development, education, the alleviation of poverty in remote areas, monitoring government programs, campaigning ideas, monitoring the flow of funds and financials of institutions, and asking for transparency. However, whether an NGO itself is also transparent in its financial statements and if they let the public know about it, still remains a question.

NGOs, especially foreign NGOs, were recently highlighted by many people because it was feared they brought in foreign interests. Not to mention the fact that there are many foreign NGOs who have not been registered in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Kasubditsosbud and the Institute of Non-Governmental Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dindin Wahyudin, stated that there are currently 150 foreign NGOs operating in Indonesia. But only 109 of them have Kemenlu recommendations. According to him, there are several issues facing the government when it sees the foreign NGO funding acquisition system.

Sovereignty of the People’s Assembly of Indonesian figures (MOJ) Fuad Bawazier also asked the government to audit foreign NGOs in Indonesia, both their financial and performance audits.

Fuad assessed that the image of NGOs, mainly foreign NGOs in Indonesia, is getting worse. Public trust is being lost because now the Indonesian people are more aware and critical in looking at the actions of several NGOs, especially foreign NGOs carrying hidden agendas. Moreover, financial and performance audits of the foreign NGOs are very rarely done by the government.

According to the results of the Edelman Trust Barometer survey in Indonesia, there’s been a decline in public confidence in the Indonesian NGOs. From 61 percent in 2011 it dropped to 53 percent in 2012. In fact, in 2013, public trust in NGOs dropped to 51 percent. The survey also showed public trust in NGOs in Indonesia is below the world average of 63 percent. These results are below Malaysia, which reached 76 percent, and China, which had 81 percent.

Two of the foreign NGOs in Indonesia now in the spotlight are the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) and Greenpeace. WWF, headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, in particular was considered to have badly managed Tesso Nilo National Park (TNNP) Riau.

At the beginning, the TNNP area reached 83,068 hectares by including the limited production forest areas that were at its side. However, based on an analysis of Landsat imagery, the current natural forest area of TNNP has lost up to 64 percent. Meanwhile, the expansion areas that destroyed natural forests have reached 83 percent. Despite all this, the WWF still wants to go back to work on similar projects in several regions in Indonesia, including the Thirty Hill National Park in Riau.

Greenpeace was also not immune from negative public accusations. The Student Alliance Against Foreign NGOs has questioned the financial management of public funds by Greenpeace Indonesia via the Freedom of Information Law (Public Information). According to the Alliance, Greenpeace does not explain in detail the breakdown of the number of donors and how much their annual or monthly donations are.

Based on information released on Greenpeace’s website, Greenpeace annually received donations from the Postcode Lottery in the Hague. It said that Greenpeace received £2.25 million (US$3.64 million) from the Postcode Lottery in 2010, although Greenpeace Indonesia denied that information.

The lack of transparency of financial statements by these NGOs has been criticized by the public and government. NGOs should open their financial reporting so that they are not suspected of being the agents of foreign interests.

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About Difa 3 Articles
Difa Kusumadewi is a social conflict and terrorism researcher, and journalist for Dekker Center. She holds degree in Informatics Engineering from Bandung Institute of Technology in 2012 and since college days was active in social studies and social research organizations at the Bandung Institute of Technology.

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