Home » Heavy restrictions on foreign funding of NGOs under FCRA

Heavy restrictions on foreign funding of NGOs under FCRA

by Raju Vernekar
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By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Sept. 28:

Mumbai The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 (FCRA) recently passed by the Parliament to regulate funding of NGOs and uphold national security, puts heavy restrictions on activities of the NGOs in the country. 
The bill passed by Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, makes the Aaadhar card for Indian and passports or Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) papers for international citizens, mandatory in order to verify their identity. Besides, the bill passed on September 21, seeks to regulate acceptance and utilisation of foreign funding by individuals, associations and companies. 
Foreign funding is donation or transfer of any currency, security or article by a foreign source. The Bill amends the earlier act and prevents transfer of foreign funding to any other person. Besides the Bill has reduced the limit of usable foreign contribution from 50% to 20%, which means anyone who receives foreign funding, cannot use more than 1/5th of the amount to meet administrative expenses. 
The renewal of licence every six months will be subject to a government inquiry to ensure the person putting in the application (a) is not fictitious, (b) not convicted for triggering communal tension and (c) is not guilty of diversion of funds. 
In order to accept foreign donations, the organisations will have to open FCRA account with designated branch in New Delhi and will have to furnish details of the donations received to Union home ministry every month. The organisations will be allowed to open separate accounts in scheduled banks to handle their normal activities. The organisations receiving foreign aid will not be allowed to pass it on to the organisations  or use it to meet expenses of other organisations. 
While moving the bill in Rajya Sabha, the Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Nityanand Rai, said that the FCRA is a law for national and internal security. Its main motive is to ensure that foreign funds do not dominate the political and social discourse of India. 
He said that the Bill proposed to make the Aadhaar Card for Indian, and passports or OCI paper for international citizens, mandatory in order to verify their identity, adding that the Home Ministry had consulted the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MEITY) before proposing this move. 
“Experience says that many organisations attempted to hide their identity and were successful in doing that. The reason behind this is that they had no fear because their identity was not established completely. So Aadhaar card has been brought in to establish their identity,” Rai added.

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