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Cabinet agrees on long-term subsidies for NGOs

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Prague, July 30 (CTK) – The Czech government approved in the night a draft state policy for nonprofit nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) until 2020 that counts with their long-term funding in the future.

The current system of one-year subsidies should be replaced with subsidies running over several years, according to the document submitted by Human Rights Minister Jiri Dienstbier (senior government Social Democrats, CSSD).

He says the work of NGOs is irreplaceable in many fields. They provide services that the state is purchasing from them.

At present, NGOs must apply for subsidies every year and they have no guarantees that they will get them and be able to continue their work.

In the future, they should have an equal position as other providers of services.

In addition, the NGOs providing necessary services will be able to sign contracts on long-term cooperation and become a strategic partner of the respective sector.

Nonprofit organisations should also get subsidies in the first quarter of the year at the latest, which is not always the case now.

The state policy that the government approved is the first strategy that includes particular measures in support for the nongovernmental nonprofit sector. For the first time, representatives of NGOs took part in drafting the strategy.

In 2006, the state gave subsidies of 5.57 billion crowns to nonprofit nongovernmental organisations, while in 2013 it was 7.01 billion. Almost a half of the subsidies were paid by the Education Ministry and more than one third by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry.

The regions provided 1.93 billion crowns for nonprofit organisations in 2006 and 1.69 billion in 2013. Municipalities paid them 3.17 billion in 2007 and 3.26 billion in 2013. Other finances were allocated from state funds, the EU, Norway grants and donated by individuals and firms.

The nonprofit sector generates over 0.7 percent of GDP, including voluntary work.

About 110,000 NGOs operate in the country, providing medical and social services, defending human rights or the rights of patients, supporting arts or other fields, associating people of the same interests, such as beekeepers, among others.

Volunteers make up almost four fifths of the staff in NGOs. They work about 45 million hours a year, which was 5.5 billion crowns in 2012.

According to the approved policy, NGOs are changing, trying to work more professional, be transparent and trustworthy. They employed over 54,000 people in 2012.

Pavlina Kalousova, from the government council for NGOs, said about 3.5 percent of economically active Czechs supported NGOs. As most of the individuals do not support NGOs regularly, the state policy focuses on support for long-term donors, Kalousova said.

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