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Support for tighter scrutiny on charities

Two charities have backed Government’s decision to closely scrutinise the activities of aid organisations, arguing that it could help to weed out fraudulent and nefarious players masquerading as charities.

And Barbados Vagrants and Homeless Society president Kemar Saffrey and National Organisation of Women spokeswoman Marsha Hinds have both suggested Government do even more to crack down on illegitimate charities.

Attorney General Dale Marshall revealed Tuesday that people desirous of setting up a charity would have to divulge certain information about the proposed charity in the interest of transparency.

The changes will require charities to provide information about the occupation of trustees and information on the properties they own. New measures will also require more information on applicant trustees or beneficiaries who held prominent public office in any international organisation.

The Attorney General told lawmakers the regulations would address money laundering commitments and transparency issues.

Hinds said: “Over the years, legitimate charities have been hard hit by sponsors who are hesitant to work with you, because of their experience with individuals who just set up charities to syphon money into personal accounts, so it is long overdue.”

She argued that in addition to guarding against corruption, Government needed to put steps in place to demand minimum standards from charities for the provision of services.

But the women’s advocate has questioned a recently announced project by the Salvation Army to set up a shelter for battered women.

“Not only were they free to set it up, but they are free to operate it without minimum standards. Those things are problematic, because at the end of the day, the ones that you’re serving are the ones that are abused, manipulated and taken advantage of.

“Just because somebody opens a charity and starts offering a service doesn’t mean that they have the ability or the know-how to do it,” she said.

Saffrey indicated that for sometime, he was concerned about the number of people registering charities who had no intention of helping people.

“With this new framework in position, it would really minimise or cut out a lot of that, especially because the legislative framework is involved as well. It’s something that we at the NGO network have been calling for and it’s definitely something that we support.

“Obviously if the international donors can’t find enough information about the individual running the charity, the trustees or the charity itself, then they are more reluctant to give. So having this information out there would be good and if my organisation has to put forward its information when the law is passed, we will willingly do so,” he said.

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