Government versus NGOs: FCRA to protect transparency and prevent misuse of foreign funds

By Rohini Mohan

The Economic Times

This April, about 30,000 nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), foundations and societies dependent on foreign donations faced a quandary as their five-year Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act (FCRA) registration expired. Thousands of them have been applying for renewals as an FCRA registration is required for them to receive any foreign donations.

NGOs filled paper forms, gathered account reports, and applied for the first-ever FCRA renewal through postal submission. The FCRA department in the ministry of home affairs (MHA) must process renewals in 90 days. Instead, on June 17, it proposed new rules to replace the FCRA Rules of 2011. These seek to digitise applications and impose more compliances on NGOs.

An FCRA offi cial told ET the system for online processing “is still under construction” but was not able to confi rm when these will start operating. In the meantime, it’s unclear if NGOs who applied for renewal offline will have to reapply online, whether 2010 registrations will stay valid till the renewal process is revamped, or if any foreign donations can be accepted at this moment.

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