NGOs should come clean over chief executives' salaries

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2008, 12:00am


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I refer to the report on salaries earned by chief executives of non-governmental organisations ('Welfare NGOs refuse to detail chiefs' salaries', July 28).

This sends an important and long-overdue message to these welfare NGOs that every single dollar donated by the public must be properly accounted for.

In so far as the NGO receives funding from the public or from the Hong Kong government (funds which come from tax revenue paid by Hong Kong people), the remuneration package of its CEO (plus the three top wage-earners, whatever their titles may be) must be transparent.

This can ensure that our generosity will not be exploited.

Those who are elected to serve as CEOs of welfare NGOs should have the conscience, courage and integrity to allow their salaries to be open to public scrutiny.

Doubts are frequently expressed about what proportion of charitable donations are eaten up by an NGO's administrative expenses.

In a typical multimillion dollar public fund- raising campaign, one wonders how much actually ends up benefiting those in need and how much is pocketed by celebrity singers and other performers backing the campaign and the commercial television promoters and those responsible for arranging it.

It is high time that the government required all organisations which were granted section 88 tax- exemption 'charitable' licences - including those holding public charity campaigns - to publish their audited administration and promotional expenses as a percentage of total donations received.

This can better enable the public to understand the allocation of its donations.

In some countries you read about trade union leaders who have their own private jets.

We must hope that this is not the case in Hong Kong.

Am I being naive in hoping we can one day have a welfare NGO with zero administration expenses and where all its executives are volunteers?

Leo Lok, Central