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Event Title: The Senate Standing Committee on Economic Affairs convened at Parliament House under the chairmanship of Senator Faisal Saleem Rehman.

Event Date: 2023-10-04

The committee meeting commenced with a comprehensive briefing from the Ministry of Interior, Economic Affairs Division and Ministry of Foreign Affairs on foreign-funded International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) operating in Pakistan, encompassing thematic areas and geographical coverage. Ministry officials briefed that "INGO Policy, 2015" was introduced to oversee the operations of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in Pakistan. According to this policy, all international NGOs operating in Pakistan are required to undergo registration with the Ministry of Interior, designated as the regulatory authority for INGOs. This registration process involves consultation with various key stakeholders, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), the Economic Affairs Division (EAD), the Security & Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP), the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and the Intelligence Bureau (IB). Currently, there are a total of 114 INGOs officially registered with the Ministry of Interior. MOFA officials highlighted that, following extensive consultations with relevant stakeholders, the NGO policy was approved by the Federal Cabinet in November 2022. This policy streamlines the processing of cases for local NGOs receiving foreign funding. An online portal for submitting Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) to the Economic Affairs Division (EAD) has been established, and all local NGOs receiving international funding can register on this platform. The policy explicitly defines the scope, characteristics, objectives, prerequisites, obligations, extent, and application of the policy. Currently, 372 cases of local NGOs have been approved through this system.

Responding to the chairman committee's inquiry about checks and balances on INGOs in Pakistan, it was clarified that funding details are shared by INGOs with EAD. A list of INGOs, along with their preferred thematic areas, was shared with the committee. Despite the independent nature of work of INGOs, the government is formulating a policy to regulate them through an ACT of Parliament. The committee chair directed the sharing of the draft ACT with the committee for information and necessary input, emphasizing the need to ensure security and alignment of INGOs' priority areas with local needs.The committee also sought district-wise details of INGOs working in Pakistan and progress reports on their projects.

Officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed the committee on their role in facilitating the work of INGOs, emphasizing them as partners in the development of Pakistan. The Ministry regularly consults missions abroad regarding the specific role of any INGO. In response to a query from the chair about attracting foreign NGOs to work in Pakistan, ministry officials stated that missions abroad highlight priority areas to stakeholders based on needs.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) provided a detailed briefing on fund utilization, distribution, and contributions from the international community and donor agencies for relief and rehabilitation efforts in flood-affected areas. NDMA officials clarified that the rehabilitation component falls under the Ministry of Planning, and NDMA focuses on emergency response and relief efforts. They outlined the four categories of the disaster management system in Pakistan, with Category 4 disasters requiring an international assistance appeal by the Government of Pakistan. With a limited budget of approximately 3000 per head, NDMA has aimed to reach almost every flood-affected district, distributing relief goods transparently through local formations of the Pakistan Army and district administration as per the Prime Minister's directives.
Providing details of international assistance, it was revealed that almost 60 to 65% of the total international assistance came from Turkey, followed by China and the UAE. Additionally, ex-gratia assistance of 1 million is provided to the next of kin of each deceased individual. The committee chair commended NDMA's efforts in flood disaster response and expressed a commitment to improving disaster response for the future. The chair also appreciated countries that provided assistance to Pakistan in its time of need.

Heads of the PDMAs of Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan provided details of relief efforts in their respective provinces, highlighting bottlenecks.

At the outset Chairman Committee expressed displeasure at delayed submission of working papers to the committee and specifically deffered the discussion on agenda item related to PDMA KPK to be taken up again in the next meeting of the committee.

The committee meeting was attended by Senators Naseema Ehsan, Umer Farooq, Anwar Lal Deen, Palwasha Muhammadzai Khan, Atta ur Rehman, along with senior officials from EAD, NDMA, and PDMAs.