In 2023, parliamentary elections will be held in Poland. This is an important moment for civil society organisations. It is important to know what candidates who stand for parliamentary election plan when it comes to important social issues raised by non-governmental organisations.
This is an opportunity to verify to what extent a given candidate acknowledges and understands the problems faced by the third sector and whether the candidate is able to enter into dialogue with civil society representatives. Finally, which candidates treat the issues raised by NGOs seriously and are ready to include them in their electoral program.
Therefore, OFOP has prepared proposals for legal simplification for the third sector, the aim of which is to strengthen the non-governmental sector. These include improving the quality of civil dialogue, facilitating the activities of NGOs and their financing, and simplifying their administrative and tax obligations. In recent years, these proposals have been repeatedly formulated by non-governmental organisations. Their implementation requires a change in the law, so it depends primarily on the actions of state authorities.
In view of the upcoming parliamentary elections, we expect political parties to:
- publicly respond to the proposals and engage in an open discussion about them,
- include the proposals in their election programmes,
- implement proposals after the elections in a transparent manner with full civic involvement in the development of detailed solutions for the NGO sector.
At OFOP, we are concerned about the development of the NGO sector in Poland, as we identify significant legal barriers for its efficient functioning. Hence, we aim to create a framework for real cooperation with public administration, based on the principles of subsidiarity, sovereignty of the parties, partnership, efficiency, fair competition and transparency, which does not compromise the sector’s independence. This is why we propose:
- to improve the quality of civil dialogue: real institutional arrangements should be provided that strengthen civil dialogue between NGOs and public authorities and enable the sector to articulate its interests.
- to reform the financing of civic initiatives: At local level, funding for civic initiatives should be increased and clearly separated from the outsourcing of publicly funded services. The system of transferring subsidies at the central level should be made inclusive, funding decisions should be based on expert knowledge and appropriate regulations – so as to eliminate political discretion and lack of real control in the distribution of public funds.
- to reform and simplify the system of contracting of public services: the system of contracting publicly funded services should be reformed by making it less bureaucratic, flexible and adaptable to the changing realities of the organisation’s operation.
- to increase the availability of other sources of funding: NGOs should be enabled and facilitated to use various sources of funding, including ensuring that EU funds are accessible to NGOs and the access conditions created allow for their efficient use.
- to create a system of tax incentives: an attractive, transparent and stable system of tax incentives should be created for persons and entities supporting the activities of NGOs, finally unnecessary fiscal burdens should be abolished for persons associated in non-governmental organisations and for their beneficiaries.
- to increase tax security and reduce accounting and reporting duties: the tax security of NGOs and persons performing functions in their management boards should be increased, accounting and reporting regulations should be adapted to the particular conditions of the activities of non-governmental organisations – so that they take into account the social purpose of the organisation’s activities.
- to simplify the procedure for registering associations and other types of organisations: the procedure for registering associations in the National Court Register should be simplified and accelerated to one day, it should be based on IT systems such as those that entrepreneurs have been able to use for years, finally formal problems of certain types of social organisations not subject to registration in the National Court Register should be solved.
- to simplify the procedure for organisations: liquidation procedures should be simplified for those who are members of organisations wishing to terminate their activities; At the same time, competent institutions should be equipped with tools enabling them, at the request of those concerned, to remove from the registers entities that have not been functioning for years or are deprived of assets and human resources to function.
The above proposals were collected and substantively developed by the OFOP Team “Simple law for NGOs”, these were consulted and presented during dozens of webinars and meetings organised in the period 2020-2023.