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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New Norms Turn Screws on NGOs Getting Foreign Funds

NEW DELHI: NGOs receiving foreign funds will now have to give an annual undertaking that acceptance of contributions from abroad is not likely to affect prejudicially the “security, strategic, scientific or economic interest of the State.”

The Union Home Ministry has added a new clause of ‘Economic interest of the State’ in form FC-4, which NGOs need to submit every year. This is part of the new foreign contribution norms unveiled by the Home Ministry on Monday.

The stringent provisions for NGOs seeking foreign funding also make it mandatory for them to upload details of foreign contributions every three months. The changes in the existing norms are intended to ensure transparency by NGOs. Submission of details related to receipt and utilisation of foreign contributions every three months is one of the major changes initiated by the Home Ministry.

An Intelligence Bureau report last year on foreign funding of NGOs had termed certain NGOs a threat to national economic security. Subsequently, the Centre had suspended FCRA of Greenpeace arguing that it had violated Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) norms by engaging in political activities to influence and lobby for the formulation of policies of its liking.

“List of purposes for which foreign contribution can be utilised rationalised and reduced as per the FCRA, 2010.... Seeking details of functionaries of the association in annual return has been dropped,” a Home Ministry spokesperson said.

The condition of submission of certificate from a Chartered Accountant and audited statement of accounts with Annual Return has been removed in respect of NGOs that do not receive or utilise foreign contribution in a financial year. Condition of applying for renewal a year before expiry of existing registration certificate for NGOs implementing multi-year project has also been removed.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Monday launched a new FCRA website to make services online reducing human interface to a minimum. Now, all FCRA-designated bank accounts and Utilisation Accounts will have to be brought on to the online platform of Public Finance Management Service of Controller General of Accounts, Ministry of Finance.

Requirement of seeking prior permission for change of name, aims and objects, address of the association, change of bank or account, change in governing body members, etc is now relaxed to only intimation through FCRA online service.

Source: http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/New-Norms-Turn-Screws-on-NGOs-Getting-Foreign-Funds/2015/12/15/article3177860.ece

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