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Panellists advocate for regulatory framework for philanthropism to drive development
Panellists advocate for regulatory framework for philanthropism to drive development

Panellists advocate for regulatory framework for philanthropism to drive development

Panellists at a Ghana Philanthropy conference in Accra have advocated the need for Civil Society Organisations(CSOs), philanthropic individuals and organisations to partner government to develop an elaborate regulatory framework on philanthropism to propel the nation's development on a sustainable basis.

They said the framework when developed would in a broader sense promote accountability, standardisation, global acceptance, incentivise and encourage individuals and organisations engaged in philanthropism to sustain the act of giving for sustainable development.

The two-day Conference was on the theme “Philanthropy for sustainable development: opportunities, challenges and the future" and aimed at providing a platform for dialogue among stakeholders on promoting philanthropy as a strategy for inclusive and sustainable national development.  

It was facilitated by STAR-Ghana Foundation in partnership with the Ghana Philanthropy Forum, West Africa Civil Society Institute (WACSI), the University of Ghana Centre for Social Policy Studies and the CSOs Sustainable Development Goals Platform.  

Discussions 

Setting the tone for the discussions , the Executive Director, Africa Philanthropy Network, Dr Stigmata Tenga, suggested the need to draft a National Policy to drive philanthropism as a catalyst for national development.

“We really need to commend the government for declaring the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda. There is an urgent need for an enabling environment for that to take place. We don't have a National Policy that can drive philanthropism for sustainable development. 
This can be considered in aiding the Ghana Beyond Aid agenda” she stated.

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Dr Tenga who also spoke on the theme for the conference, stressed the need to make documentation processes less cumbersome for philanthropism and ensuring that there were tax incentives that would support individuals and organisations that were into philanthropism.

Panellists

The Dean, University of Ghana Business School, Prof. Justice Nyigmah Bawole, for his part, said although informal philanthropism was imbedded in the Ghanaian culture, formal philanthropy that may require some form of regulatory framework was “quite underdeveloped, untapped and largely foreign".

He explained that a regulatory framework on philanthropism was needed to prevent abuse and promote accountability,  however care must be taken not to allow the framework to rather discourage people from giving since the informal way of giving made the process spontaneous and vibrant.

“For a number of reasons it is important to get regulation but we must ensure it doesn't become a command and control type of regulation but it must be incentive-based”Prof. Bawole argued.

He recommended that the CSOs and philanthropic organisations must not wait for government to begin the process of regulation but they should be deliberate and intentional about it.

The Director of Operations, African Women’s Development Fund, Gertrude Bibi Annoh-Quarshie, suggested that CSOs must be clear about what they wanted and how to go about it because philanthropism also has trust and accountability issues to deal with if the framework was completed.

In creating a conducive environment for philanthropism to thrive for sustainable development, Ms Annoh-Quarshie called for enforcement of incentives such as tax exemptions stressing that with the introduction of digitalisation, efforts should be made to avoid bureaucracy in documentation.

Experiences

Sharing her experiences in philanthropism, a Media Personality, Efia Akese, explained that formalisation of philanthropism was required, but she was quick to add that the processes that are to be spelt out in the regulatory framework as a form of formalisation should not be “worrisome" because it would make individuals and organisations to give up in the process.

Contributing to the discussions virtually, a Philanthropist, Ibrahim Mahama, said young people must be encouraged to contribute to addressing development issues.

The Executive Director, STAR-Ghana Foundation, Alhaji Amidu Ibrahim-Tanko, observed that philanthropism went beyond giving.

He said there was the need for philanthropic individuals and organisations to consider engaging in philanthropism not only during disasters and emergencies such as the recent dam spillage that occurred in some parts of the country but also it must be done consistently and on a sustainable basis.

Other speakers at the event included the Netherlands Ambassador to Ghana, Jeroen Verheul.

Communique

A communique issued at the end of the conference, among others called for the creation of formal Systems and Structure for Philanthropy in Ghana.

“The current state of formal philanthropy in Ghana is marked by underdevelopment and a heavy reliance on external funding. To unlock its potentials, it is recommended that the government creates an enabling environment that will facilitate philanthropic culture in Ghana” it stressed.

The communique further recommended to government to collaborate with CSOs to establish an incentive-based regulatory process.

This innovative approach, it noted, as opposed to traditional command-and-control mechanisms, will ensure a dynamic and mutually beneficial system to encourage philanthropic activities.

“The partnership between CSOs and government entities is vital for creating an environment that promotes voluntary contributions toward societal development” it said.

The communique further mentioned streamlining tax exemptions, reducing bureaucracy through digital platforms, building the capacities of CSOs and philanthropists to understand regulatory processes and engaging the youth in philanthropy to foster a culture of giving as other measures that will ultimately promote philanthropism for development.

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