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Brazil to control public funding of NGOs

Brazil’s government is increasing oversight over non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the country and will control public funds given to such groups.

Jair Bolsonaro
Jair Bolsonaro, President of Brazil

This was disclosed by Government Secretary Carlos dos Santos Cruz in a local interview published on Monday, January 7, 2019.

Cruz said the initiative would help determine whether the organisations were fulfilling their roles of carrying out works that complement government actions.

His remarks, published on the G1 news portal, came on the heels of an executive order issued last week.

The order gave the new administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, potentially far-reaching and restrictive powers over non-governmental organisations.

“The government’s intention is to optimise the use of public funds and bring more benefits to the people assisted by the NGOs,” Cruz said.

He denied the intention was to restrict their activity.

“The plan is not to interfere in the life of the organisations or restrict anything. But it’s public money. There needs to be transparency and there needs to be results,” Cruz said.

Leaders of NGOs that work in Brazil, such as Jose Miguel Vivanco, Director of the Americas division of Human Rights Watch, said the decree on NGOs could be viewed in a positive light, but also expressed concerns.

If the new rules “facilitate a constructive relationship between international civil society groups and the government,” that is positive.

But Vivanco said he was also worried about how far the Bolsonaro government would go in monitoring the groups.

Rules to increase oversight over non-government organisations was one of the very first acts of Bolsonaro, the right-wing president sworn-in on Jan. 1.

Bolsonaro’s temporary decree expires after 120 days unless it is ratified by congress. It gives Cruz’s office the power to “supervise, co-ordinate, monitor and accompany the activities and actions of international organisations and non-governmental organisations in the national territory.”

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