Community World Service Asia (CWSA) has long been committed to facilitating Pakistani NGOs with building their organisational capacity, improving quality and accountability mechanisms as well as strengthening coordination and collaboration with local governments to create an environment conducive to civil society growth. With the same mandate, CWSA facilitated the NGO/INGO Cell at the Ministry of Economic Affairs Division (EAD) with organising a seminar on “Understanding the Process and Procedures for Registration on E-Portal” on 21st October 2021 in Islamabad.
The objective of the seminar was to improve participants’ understanding of the EAD’s NGO E-portal, which was launched earlier this year and introduce them to the upcoming NGO Policy. Through the submission of papers on the web, this portal has digitised the process of getting a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) from the EAD, ultimately saving time and resources. Syeda Adeela Bokhari, Joint Secretary NGOs/INGOs, was the keynote speaker at this seminar, attended by 24 people from 16 different humanitarian and development organisations.
Tooba Siddiqi from CWSA, set the stage for the event and did a round of introductions with all attendees. Following her opening comments, Tooba reiterated the role NGOs need to play to make the compliance process easier for the government. Ms. Bokhari started with discussing the application of the 2013 NGO Policy, as well as a sectoral overview of the non-profit sector and the governance issues that exist, such as those pertaining to regulations and a lack of integrated data.
Ms. Bokhari emphasised that there is a significant divide between the government and NGOs, which her and the team is attempting to bridge at every possibility. Ms. Bokhari and her team at the EAD are working on a new policy for NGOs that would rectify these inadequacies while remaining compliant with Pakistan’s international legal obligations.
Participants were informed about how to access the E-portal and shared how documents could be uploaded to the portal to attain an MoU. The avoidance of common mistakes was emphasised, such as ensuring that the file size to not exceed seven megabytes, all information to be valid, and that currency values to be provided in both Pakistani Rupees and US Dollars. Ms. Bokhari further stated that the EAD is working to ensure that all development partners are on the same page when it comes to the portal.
Ms. Bokhari concluded by stating that she believes “in continuous development and that the EAD is working to enhance the digitising process. Because this is a radical departure from usual procedures, it will take a significant amount of time and effort to make it completely functioning for all stakeholders.”
Participants appreciated the EAD’s efforts to bring innovation to the process, saying that “such an event was a need of the hour.” This seminar also provided an opportunity for participating NGOs and CSOs to share feedback and input with the Joint Secretary on glitches and challenges they usually face. It is anticipated that the participants would put their newfound knowledge into practise, and that the EAD will host similar activities in the future.
 The Minister for Economic Affairs, Mr. Omer Ayub Khan inaugurated the NGOs helpdesk facility and NGOs e-portal on 30th June, 2021. The E-portal offers, on line submission of fresh applications; renewals, additional project requests, auto generated correspondence such as acknowledgement, approvals, regrets.