Members of the House of Representatives at plenary yesterday, passed through second reading a bill seeking to regulate international donor agencies’ funding in order to promote transparency, curb money laundering and terrorism financing.
The proposed legislation tilted, “Bill for an Act to Establish Donor Agencies Regulatory Commission; and for Related Matters (HB. 1568),” was sponsored by Hon. Unyime Idem.
Leading the debate on its general principles, Idem while noting that donor agencies through their services play crucial role in ensuring that individuals and communities were well equipped to deal with structural changes in the nation’s economy, providing support to vulnerable groups, said there had been substantiated allegations that the financial interventions were being used as a conduit for money laundering and terrorism financing.
He said the phenomenon of lack of transparency and accountability of funds received by the donor agencies prompted the bill and the urgent need to provide a coordinated regulatory framework for tracking and regulating the activities of the NGOs and donor agencies while ensuring compliance with international best practices.
The lawmaker said the Commission if created, could influence partners involved in the adherence to standards and accountability mechanisms and develop effective bio-data systems of all the donor agencies and NGOs of related activities within the country and the affiliates across the globe for the systematic identification of all the partners.
Idem said, “The donor agencies have increased their impact and functions over the years, creating a rising interest in support of developing countries' socio-economic development, leading to several donor-funded project interventions from advanced nations, international bodies, corporate organizations, and individuals with means.
“In year 2000, the trend witnessed a dramatic surge as international donors commenced rural development, social and community development, poverty alleviation programs, public health, agriculture, education, and infrastructural development to mention but a few and unimaginable over $26.94 billion (20 Trillion Naira) was officially recorded to have been received as development assistance funds from International Donors between 2015 and 2020. We all know that most of the funds do not pass-through official channels.
“We have on record over 3500 donor agencies currently operating in the country and are playing significant role in directing development interventions in certain contexts and sectors, always based on critical knowledge of the territorial, political, and societal contexts in which they operate.
“There have been substantiated allegation that these financial interventions are being used as a conduit for money laundering and terrorism financing.
“This singular phenomenon of lack of transparency and accountability of funds received by the donor agencies prompt this Bill of urgent need to provide a coordinated regulatory framework for tracking and regulating the activities of the NGOs and donor agencies while ensuring compliance with international best practices.”
In their contributions, while Hon. Nkem Abonta was of the view that the bill was retrogressive and might scare away donors. But the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Idris Wase supported the bill’s passage saying it would help put a stop to promotion of immorality in the country by some of the agencies, amongst other issues.
The Bill was thereafter put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila who presided over the session and it was passed.