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Foreign funding for NGOs: After inputs from IB, PMO tells Home Ministry to tighten FCRA regulations


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NEW DELHI: Acting on instructions from the PM’s Office (PMO), the home ministry is stepping up scrutiny of foreign-funded non-governmental outfits based on recommendations of Intelligence Bureau, a move that could prove controversial coming as it does after actions against Ford Foundation and Greenpeace.

The ministry plans to tighten some rules of the principal law governing the sector — the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA).

The home ministry has quickened its review of FCRA rules after the PM’s Principal Secretary Nripendra Misra wrote to Home Secretary LC Goyal asking him to put a mechanism in place “without any delay” to monitor foreign funding of NGOs.

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The Intelligence Bureau’s recommendations, numbering a dozen, were received last week. Encouraging transparency and improving oversight will be the “guiding principles” of the exercise, ET has learnt.

PMO is said to be keen to have the new measures in place by June 15 in the interest of India’s “economic security”, officials said, explaining the urgency of the matter. The FCR rules were brought in by the erstwhile UPA government after FCRA was enacted in 2010, and these rules are now being tightened further.

As part of the proposed changes, NGOs may have to provide details of all foreign funding within 48 hours to ensure transparency.

“NGOs would be mandated to have a website on which they will be required to put out the details of each foreign inflow for public viewing within 48 hours of receiving the funds. This will include the source of funds, the intended activity for which the funds are expected to be used and the details of its partner NGOs in that specific project,” disclosed a senior government official. Annual audited reports for previous years should also be made public, the official said.

The ‘oversight’ part of the new measures would allow the government to keep close tabs on NGOs through stricter checks and inspections. A detailed oversight system, describing each step, is being worked upon by the home ministry, officials said. “Each NGO would know the parameters on which it will be inspected,” an official said.

The PMO communication to home ministry had stressed the “need for effective linkage between MHA, Reserve Bank of India and banks for effective monitoring” of NGOs. IB’s recommendations on the ‘oversight’ aspect is based on “it’s expertise in tracking NGOs misusing FCR Act and FCR rules,” a senior ministry official told ET.

Action against foreign-funded NGOs

The Modi administration has been accused by critics of clamping down on foreignfunded NGOs. The US-based Ford Foundation, one of the biggest nonprofit organisations across the world, was put on a watch list by MHA and each of its foreign donations is now vetted before permission is given for it to be credited to any FCRA-registered NGO in India.

“Officials of the Ford Foundation had met senior home ministry bureaucrats last week asking for a rethink on the move. Right now, there is no plan for a rethink till the inquiry against certain NGOs funded by Ford Foundation is complete.

The ministry is soon going to take a decision on the propriety of the funding given to Teesta Setalvad’s NGOs by Ford Foundation,” a senior home ministry official said.

Source- Economic Times

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