Central Government tightens noose around NGOs dubiously rerouting foreign contribution for anti-national activities

Newsroom24x7 Network

New Delhi: Following the enactment of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act, 2020, the Union Home Ministry has steel jacketed the system to control the NGOs that were engaged in dubiously rerouting of foreign money in contravention of legal provisions.

There were intelligence reports that many organisations in india were receiving foreign contributions under FCRA and rerouting these funds for secessionist, disruptive and anti-national activities. The Central Government has taken serious note and taken adequate steps to plug all loopholes.

How much the noose has been tightened gets amply reflected by the fact that against Rs 16956.83 crore received as foreign contribution by 23911 NGOs in 2017-18 and Rs 16991.32 crore received by 22181 NGOs in 2018-19, only Rs 1921.56 crore was received by 4424 NGOs in 2019-20.

The 4424 NGOs that received foreign contribution in 2019-20 have been granted time till June 30, 2021 to file Annual Returns.

In 2017-18, 7 NGOs received 2.33 crore, which was foreign funding transferred from other NGOs.

In 2018-19, foreign funding to the tune of Rs. 1246.44 crore was transferred to 5261 NGOs.

In 2019-20, foreign funding to the tune of Rs. 72.26 crore was transferred to 517 NGOs. These NGOs have time till June 30, 2021 to file Annual Returns.

The total number of NGOs granted a certificate of registration under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 till 28 February 2021 is 22489.

Renewal under FCRA was denied to 211 NGOs in 2018, 357 in 2019 and 101 in 2020.

Registration was suspended for 233 NGOs in 2018, 5 in 2019 and 25 in 2020.

The total number of applications pending for registration at present is 1869. The number of applications pending for registration is 1869, prior permission 147, and renewal application 1331.

The Registration and Prior permission under The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010 is granted to associations/NGOs for 5 types of programmes i.e religious, social, economic, educational or cultural, as mandated under section 11 of the Act.

The associations granted registration or prior permission have to mandatorily submit online the receipt and utilisation of FC received by them.

A monitoring unit of FCRA Wing monitors the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution. Methods of monitoring include, scrutiny of Annual Returns, inputs from field agencies, on the spot audit and inspection of the accounts of FCRA Associations.

The Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India (MHA) had issued a Public Notice on 13 October 2020 clarifying several aspects on the newly introduced requirement of opening new bank account with the State Bank of India (SBI).

Through the Public Notice, MHA has granted sufficient time to existing FCRA registered bodies holding valid registration certificate for transitioning to the new regime. The registered NGOs will be able to receive foreign contribution in their new account with effect from 1 April 2021 or from the date of opening of the new account, whichever is earlier. MHA has also given the flexibility to the NGOs to retain their existing bank accounts as FCRA accounts or utilisation accounts. This notice however does not dilute the requirement of opening a new account with SBI, New Delhi Main Branch which will be the ‘port of entry’ for all foreign contributions with effect from 1 April 2021.

A case in point is Amnesty International that had received permission under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) only once and that too twenty years ago on 19 December 2000. Since then Amnesty International, despite its repeated applications, was denied FCRA approval by successive governments since as per law it is not eligible to get such an approval.

In order to circumvent the FCRA regulations, Amnesty UK remitted large amounts of money to four different bodies registered in India, under the garb of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). A large amount of foreign money was also remitted to Amnesty (India) without MHA’s approval under FCRA.

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