Civil Society Supporting Transparency and Fiscal Accountability in South Asia

7 December 2021  07:00 - 08:00

Virtual Event | Organised by The Asia Foundation | Held in United States in English
Contact details: [email protected]
Addressing and fighting corruption
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In South Asia, civil society is taking the lead on driving fiscal transparency at the local and national levels. By supporting government fiscal transparency and accountability policies, practices, and implementation, and developing creative approaches to building public knowledge and tools, civil society organizations are facilitating community participation in public sector decision-making and fostering governments’ sense of obligation to communities. Our panelists, representatives from Policy Entrepreneurs Incorporated Pvt. Ltd. (PEI) in Nepal, Center for Policy Dialogue (CPD) in Bangladesh, and Advocata Institute in Sri Lanka, are three leading CSOs doing groundbreaking research and advocacy in infrastructure monitoring, citizen participation in public finance, and reform of state-owned enterprises. Sharing best practices for driving the call for public sector accountability and transparency in their countries, these CSOs will demonstrate how civil society-led initiatives are vital to combatting corruption and holding governments accountable to their citizens.

Opening Remarks by:
David D. Arnold, President and CEO, The Asia Foundation
Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of State Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State

Moderated by:
Diana Fernandez, Project Director of the South Asia Governance Fund, The Asia Foundation


  • Saumitra Neupane, Executive Director, Policy Entrepreneurs Inc. (PEI), Nepal

Saumitra Neupane is a political economist specializing in policies, institutions, and markets of water and energy resources. For the past decade, he has been engaged in a number of key reforms in Nepal’s electricity sector and contributed to numerous researches on Nepal’s electricity and water resources.

Saumitra currently leads PEI where he is responsible for the overall management and in designing, supervising, and leading projects in thematic areas of the institution. Nepal-India bilateral cooperation on water and electricity, including ongoing research on policy and institutional requirements for Nepal’s participation in cross border electricity trade, and potential trading options. Before joining PEI, Saumitra led a transboundary initiative on water governance that brought together civil society organizations from Nepal and India in establishing a river network to facilitate cooperation on shared common issues.

Saumitra has a Master’s degree in Sustainable Development Practice from the TERI School of Advanced Studies, India and an MPhil degree in Public Administration from Tribhuwan University. He also lectures part-time on public policy as a faculty of the Center for Development Studies.

  • Towfiqul Islam Khan, Senior Research Fellow, Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD), Bangladesh

Towfiqul Islam Khan is an Economist. He is the Coordinator of CPD’s Independent Review of Bangladesh’s Development (IRBD) program. He has undertaken research and published in a number of areas including macroeconomic policies, fiscal policy and fiscal transparency, governance, financing for development, inclusive development and sustainable development goals (SDGs). Khan is currently a member of the ‘SDG Working Team’ constituted under the Prime Minister’s Office, Government of Bangladesh. He is also a member of the ‘SDGs NGO Sub-Committee’ constituted under the NGO Affairs Bureau of Bangladesh. Khan received Australian Leadership Award (ALA) in 2008 to carry out his post graduation academic degree at University of Melbourne, Australia. Khan also obtained his Masters and Bachelors in the area of Economics from Jahangirnagar University, Bangladesh.

  • Dhananath Fernando, Chief Operating Officer, Advocata Institute, SriLanka

Dhananath is the chief operating officer and one of the founding members of Advocata Institute.

Prior to founding Advocata, Dhananath worked as an Associate Research Director at Breakthrough Business Intelligence, a leading market research agency in Sri Lanka.

He read for his Bachelor’s degree in Bio Sciences and Bio Chemistry at the University of Colombo and is an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership Programme by the State Department of the United States of America, as well as an alumnus of the ATLAS Think Tank Leadership Academy in Washington, DC.

He is the host of “Public Space Sri Lanka”, a one on one weekly TV discussion with politicians on Art TV, and a morning news program, “Wake up with Art”.

Dhananath is also a curator and founding member of AK Lit Fest, a trilingual literary festival dedicated to showcasing local authors of Sri Lanka.

In his social responsibilities, Dhananath works with ‘people in need’ by volunteering with CandleAid Lanka, a government-approved humanitarian organization. He was a part of a team training vison- and hearing-impaired students on swimming and safety, and the main coordinator for personality, career development, and English training for undergraduates.

Dhananath is an enthusiastic mountain climber and a trekker. He completed the Everest Base Camp in May 2018 and the Chardar Trek (one of the wildest treks based on a ranking by CNN), a frozen river at the Indian-Tibetan border in 2017.