The Modi government has further tightened rules for the non-governmental organisations seeking foreign funding to run their operations. According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the government has revisited the rules for receiving money from overseas.
The rules say that NGOs that are eligible for receiving money from abroad must have operated for at least three years and spent Rs 15 lakh in voluntary activities.
The Centre had previously made it mandatory for NGOs to open accounts only in designated banks for receiving foreign funds. Besides, it had barred over 150 organisations for six months for not sticking to the order. The government's steps are aimed at bringing transparency in the funding of NGOs and check activities hawala, tax evasions and money laundering.
As per the rule, all NGOs should get themselves registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act and comply with all norms. The registration is valid for five years and can be renewed thereafter.
The latest MHA order also asked NGOs to submit a "specific commitment letter" from the donor indicating the amount of foreign contribution and the purpose.
“A person seeking registration under clause (b) of sub-section (4) of section 12 of the Act shall meet the following conditions, namely:– (i) it shall be in existence for three years and have spent a minimum amount of rupees fifteen lakh on its core activities for the benefit of society during the last three financial years,” the notification reads.
The FCRA rules were issued months after the government amended the law under. The government had made it mandatory for the NGOs to provide Aadhaar numbers of the office bearers. Besides, it brought down office expenses to 20 per cent of such amount. It also prohibited election candidates, government servants, members of any legislature and political parties from accepting foreign funding.
Also, any NGO or person making an application for obtaining prior permission to receive foreign funds shall have an FCRA Account.
In an organisation where Indian recipient persons and foreign donor organisations having common members, prior permission will granted to the Indian person/entity if it satisfies the conditions.
The MHA said that in case of a single individual, that person shall not be the chief functionary or office bearer of the recipient group. In case of a single foreign donor, 75 per cent of the office bearers or members of the governing body of the recipient shall not be the family members or close relatives of the donor.
According to a PTI report, there are around 22,400 NGOs in the country. Between 2016-17 and 2018-19, NGOs registered under the FCRA received over Rs 58,000 crore foreign funds.