By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
The Government was yesterday warned not to treat non-profit organisations “like businesses”, although a civil society advocate said the sector was not necessarily opposed to greater regulation.
Terry Miller, Civil Society Bahamas (CSB) director, who is also executive director of The Bahamas Association for Social Health (BASH), said non-profits such as his, which relied heavily on government subsidies, were “challenged” to provide all the necessary information to receive such funding.
“We have been in the process for the last two weeks trying to get everything in place to get our grant,” he said. “This has been causing us some stress. They have been asking for TIN numbers, legal trading name and all kinds of other information. They’re treating non-profits like a business.
“You go to the Ministry of Social Services, which is our first line, and they say you need ‘A’. Then you go elsewhere and they tell you you need B,C,D and E. The turnaround is frustrating and the lack of response from the civil service is why Civil Society Bahamas has been trying to get some funding for a symposium so that they can understand our challenges and we can understand their dynamics.”
Mr Miller added: “Most of us are challenged financially, and when that government grant comes, while it may only be a small percentage of our Budget, we look forward to it. But when the time comes you find out that we have more hoops to jump through.
“It is unfair to us and shows a lack of respect. I think that the Government should have met with all the entities who rely on government grants and outline the process step by step. From week to week, pray we can find enough money to fund our salaries. When they put these demands on us they have to see what is reasonable.”
Mr Miller told Tribune Business that CSB has been pushing for a Civil Society Organisation Bill. “We are not against regulation, but we want to be considered separate from the for-profit organisations,” he added.