Keeping donations on track


I bring to your attention a recent article ran by Transparency International entitled ‘How to Keep Desperately Needed Humanitarian Aid Out of the Hands of the Corrupt’.

Among others, it says senior management and leaders should openly discuss and address the possibilities of corruption in the field and produce clear anti-corruption strategies.

Is this happening? In the Sikh community, are our Sikhs organisations and gurdwaras and all those donation-collecting outfits open and transparent about how much is collected, and where and how the money is spent?

The article says:

Around the globe, tens of millions of people need humanitarian assistance from governments, humanitarian aid agencies, and the UN. Humanitarian assistance financing has been rising year on year from around US$16.7 billion in 2010 to $27.3 billion in 2016. That’s a great step towards ensuring that essential help gets to those most in need after natural disasters or conflict.

But even when lives are at stake and people at their most vulnerable, corruption and other abuses are not uncommon.

Most international humanitarian operations take place in fragile states, with weak rule of law, inefficient or dysfunctional public institutions, and a limited ability to prepare for and prevent humanitarian disasters. Every country requiring a humanitarian response this year scores badly on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2016.

There are no specific figures on how much aid is lost to corruption, but it undermines humanitarian efforts in various ways.

Bribery and extortion distort decision-making, and increase the cost of goods and services. The amount of aid reaching the most vulnerable is reduced, or its quality is diminished.

Other forms of corruption – like nepotism and cronyism in the hiring of staff, or bias or political interference in the distribution of relief – can occur even when financial accounts seem in order. There can even be extortion of sexual favours in return for aid, and intimidation of staff so they’ll turn a blind eye to malfeasance.

The humanitarian aid sector has been confronting the challenge of corruption for over a decade but it is clear that greater investment in tackling corruption is needed. More specifically, key actors in the humanitarian sector – donor governments, the UN, humanitarian agencies, and host governments – need to become stronger and work more collectively.

The above may also apply to donations-aid given by corporate sector in the name of ‘corporate social responsibility (CSR)’ as there may be weak management-monitoring-audit of funds/facilities donated.

Internal auditors [and statutory auditors] have a role to play by expanding their scope of audit.

Gursharan Singh,

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia


[ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs in Southeast Asia and surrounding countries. We have a Facebook page, do give it a LIKE. Follow us on Twitter. Visit our website:] 15999


Managing gurdwara funds transparently, with accountability (Asia Samachar, 14 Feb  2016)


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  1. The Corporate Sector is known to be generous when it comes to donating funds for the benefit of victims of natural and man made disasters. However almost all companies make cash donations and Donations cheque presenting ceremonies are given wide publicity.
    It is my view that any assitance to victims who have lost their houses and where damaged infrastructure is to be repaired or re constructed it would be more efficient if companies with construction expertise were to use their intended donation by constructing houses for victims or repairing the damaged infrastructure which the companies would ensure that it is high quality to safeguard their reputation.
    This will also ensure that cash donations are not embezzeled or the expenditure not subject to Risks associated with Mismanagment Fraud Corruption collussion Cronyism Bribery Kickbacks Nepotism as has been reported in the latest report issued by Transparency International.
    Hope relevant Public Authorities and Corporate Sector will consider this proposal as it is a Preventive measure to minimise above Risks.