Salesian Province of Panjim Organises South Asia 

Economers, Provincial Development Offices, Lay 

Accountants Meet 2019

Social work may seem altruistic and many a compassionate person has plunged headlong into it only to discover that there is a lot more than meets the eye to keep an NGO afloat, specifically in the department of economics. The Fathers of the Society of St Francis de Sales, or the Salesians of Don Bosco, are known for their extensive work in charity following in the footsteps of their beloved founder Don Bosco. With NGOs that can be found all over India, it is indeed a monumental task to run a tight ship when it comes to the fiscal aspects of NGO organisation. For this very purpose the South Asia Economers, Provincial Development Offices and Lay Accountants Meet 2019 of the Salesians Provinces of Don Bosco present in India and Sri Lanka, held from 11th to 13th February 2019 at Pilar, Goa, was organised by the Salesian Province of Panjim. (Read more about the Don Bosco Konkan Development Society here)

The financial heads of the 12 Provinces of South Asia are called provincial economers, who along with the lay accountants and the officers of the Province Development Offices, attended the meeting. Economer General of the Salesians of Don Bosco Congregation Brother Jean Paul Muller, who had come from Rome with his team, comprising of Br Alberto Rodriguez, Dr Fabio Bucconi, and Dr Janko Jochimsen, was present for the three-day meet.

The first day (11th Feb) comprised of the Province Development Officers (PDO) attending a meeting with the topic ‘Convergence for Impact Development’. Fr Noel Maddichetty, Director BOSCONET, gave a talk on the topic ‘Don Bosco Flagship Programs: Discussion on Concept notes on Empowering YaR (Young at Risk), Skills for Sustainable Living, Women Empowerment’. Fr. Noel then went on to explain the statutes of BOSCONET. The resource person for the session on CSR projects and implementation procedures was Fr Vincent Thamburaj, Assistant Director of BOSCONET. Mr Samrat Ganguly, Head of Resource Mobilization and Strategic Partnership, BOSCONET, explained current CSR trends, challenges in CSR, and future collaborations. Later Fr Noel proceeded to discuss the Annual Plan 2019 for the PDO network, areas of capacity building for the PDO network and the review of the status of implementation of the new PDO document.

On the second day of the meet Br Jean Paul Muller, releasing the new manual on the role of the Provincial Economers said, ‘The economy is undergoing a lot of changes and there is a need for the Salesians to adapt to it. Transparency is important in all dealings of day to day life.

Fr Xavier Packia addressed the latest developments on compliance aspects of NPOs (Non-Profit Organisation) and warned that being lax with regard to rules could very well lead to the closure of charitable institutions. A session on GST, Foreign Contributions (Regulations) Act, Income Tax and Relevant forms from Income Tax rules was taken up by Partners, M Thomas and Co, Chartered Accountants.

Other sessions were on ACME erp, the accounting package used in the Provinces of South Asia; a brief on how reports can be generated from ACME to be used for the Rome Report – Rendiconto; Social Development Goals, its forecast and progress.

Panel discussions were held with chartered accountants Mr A Rosario, Mr JPJ Kamlesh, Mr Sunil Gonsalves, and Mr Gaver Lobo answering queries raised by the participants with regard to rules and regulations of trust/societies, application of income, accounting with regard to land, accounting with regard to FCRA and other basic accounting queries.

Day three (13th Feb) sessions were held on ‘Economy at the Service of the Salesian Charism and Mission’; the new Manual of the Economers; and Rendiconto implementation and financial reports.

Fr Xavier Packia spoke about the idea of creating a new portal to maintain documents online. He stated, ‘Each Province could ask their Houses to upload the main documents online so that it is available to the economer and can be accessed easily whenever needed. Except for the land and other confidential documents, the main documents of the society or trust could be uploaded.’ Explaining some provisions of income tax, Fr Xavier Packia asked the participants to keep constant track of notifications received from the Income Tax Department.

At the conclusion of the meet, Br Jean Paul Muller said, ‘The big economic changes happening around the world are a challenge to the Salesians. The economic situation of India is a major concern with the ratio of the rich to the poor growing. I encourage the Salesians and their teams to work hard and contribute towards the improvement of the economic situation.’