On the third day of the WSF, civil society discusses difficulties and challenges to implementing the Regulatory Framework

A Round Table Dialogue: “The construction and implementation of the regulatory framework in Brazil to transfer public and private funds to CSOs,” took place on the morning of 15 March, at the Pharmacy Faculty of the Federal University of Bahia (Universidade Federal da Bahia: UFBA), as part of the 2018 World Social Forum (WSF).

Before the debate began, the meeting facilitators paid particular homage to city councillor Marielle Franco (whose party was the PSOL-RJ), brutally shot dead on 14 March, days before her nomination as Rapporteur to the Commission which will monitor the military intervention in Rio de Janeiro.

Following the homage, the round table was opened with presentations from those in attendance, explaining where they came from and their reason for participating in the meeting.  Grass-roots organizations were present, including the Residents Association from the Santa Luiza Cooperative, the Palmas Centre for Human Rights, the Dom José Brandão de Castro Centre for the Defence of Human Rights (Centro de Defesa dos Direitos Humanos Dom José Brandão de Castro: CDJBC), the Semi-arid Agroecology Centre (Centro Agroecológico do Semiárido: CASA) and Gambá, as well as participants from the European Union.  The discussion was facilitated by Eliana Rolemberg representing CESE, Candice Araújo from Caritas Northeast Brazil III and Aline Gomes from the Group of Institutes, Foundations and Companies (Grupo de Institutos, Fundações e Empresas: GIFE).

Eliana Rolemberg asserted that the issue of the Civil Society Regulatory Framework (Marco Regulatório: MROSC) is a process. Given that it is still underway, it is essential to have arenas for discussion and the exchange of experiences.  “After the implementation of Law 13019, we have dedicated ourselves to disseminating this process to civil society organizations.  The Bahia experience has been put forward as a model, but we still face many difficulties and challenges.”  She noted the importance of taking this discussion to the WSF: “The Social Forum, which makes it possible to see different organizations that are experiencing difficulties in relation to the framework, is a unique opportunity”.

For Candice Araújo, the MROSC process is not only limited to making contracts with the public authorities, but also includes the implementation of the law.  The new instrument which has emerged in the regulatory framework as a formal agreement for promotion, for partnership, for cooperation, is only part of this process. She cited bidding applications as an example of something that needs to be drafted and regulated alongside organizations: “Which bidding applications are calling on civil society to participate? What is being demanded within each application?  Many of them contradict the Law”.

As a representative of Caritas NE III, Eliana also asserted that there is a need to publicize MROSC and to collectively consider ways to monitor it in order to enable the implementation of the Law: “We need to inform civil society about what the regulatory framework actually is.  So as to have the power to contest the public authorities”.

As well as the difficulty of including this debate in the public agenda, there is an urgent need to advance this discussion because of the context of the economic crisis, of the reduction of international funding, of the scarcity of private funding and the difficulty accessing public funding.  Aline Gomes, from GIFE, drew attention to this situation and advised participants about research being undertaken by the Getúlio Vargas Foundation: “The Getúlio Vargas Foundation is making an analysis of the content of the regulation of Law 13019 and the taxes paid by civil society organizations. It is very important that the institutions monitor this in order to protect themselves, particularly at a time of economic crisis”.

Despite these difficulties, the organizations in attendance were not discouraged.  For Alex Nascimento, from the CDJBC, despite the slow progress in the construction and implementation of regulatory mechanisms in Sergipe, the organization’s participation in exchanges has given them strength for the struggle: “I truly believe in the power of mobilization.  For this reason, the organizations are constantly mobilized to pressurize the public authorities and advance these agendas”.

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