The Centre on Sunday proposed multi dimensional amendments to the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) through a bill that now makes it mandatory for NGOs to furnish Aadhar as a non-neogitable identification document for accepting foreign donations.
Under the amendments, public servants have also been barred from accepting foreign donations.
The amendment also proposes to limit the amount of foreign funds received to not more than 20 per cent to the total foreign funding received for incurring administrative expenses. At the moment, the limit is 50 per cent.
“The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution have not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under the said Act. Many of them were also found wanting in ensuring basic statutory compliances such as submission of annual returns and maintenance of proper accounts,” according to the proposed amendment,” the Bill says.
“This has led to a situation where the central government had to cancel certificates of registration of more than 19,000 recipient organisations, including non-governmental organisations, during the period between 2011 and 2019,” it further says.
The new amendment also requires NGOs to receive foreign contributions in a designated FCRA bank account in the State Bank of India at the National Capital. Associations, registered with the Centre, can also open multiple accounts in other banks for transferring or utilizing funds from the FCRA account in SBI.
SBI branches have been directed to report to Home Ministry directly about the source of funds, manner of reception of funds and the permitted limit of foreign remittance.
The bill, if passed, will empower the Centre to ask a violator to not use the funds by holding a “summary inquiry”.
As per available estimates, more than Rs 58,000 crore foreign funds were received by NGOs registered under FCRA between 2016-17 and 2018-19. There are about 22,400 NGOs in the country.
OPPOSITION & NGOs OPPOSE
Congress MP Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury and his party colleague Manish Tewari said THE Bill would give more powers to the government to “muzzle voices of dissent”.
TMC MP Sougata Ray termed the Bill as the “Big Brother watching” and said Centre is trying to block foreign contributions to a number of social organisations, including those who work in tribal and rural areas.
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