The government of India in the Lok Sabha on Sunday sought to amend the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) proposing to streamline the provisions of the FCRA by strengthening the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign donations.

Through the Bill presented in the lower house of Parliament, the central government sought to include ‘public servants’ in the prohibited category, decrease administrative expenses through foreign funds by an organisation from 50 per cent to 20 per cent, make Aadhaar mandatory for registration and give government powers to stop utilisation of foreign funds by an organisation through a ‘summary enquiry’.

According to the draft bill, any person who seeks registration under the FCRA will now have to mandatorily furnish the Aadhar numbers of all its office-bearers or directors or other key functionaries, a copy of the passport or the Overseas Citizen of India.

It says that these amendments are necessary to transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign donations worth thousands of crores of rupees every year.

The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010 was enacted to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution by a certain individual/ association/companies and to prohibit acceptance and utilisation of foreign contribution for any activities detrimental to the national interest.

It must be noted that there are 22,400 NGOs in the country. It is worth mentioning that over Rs 58,000 crore foreign contributions were received by NGOs between 2016-17 and 2018-19 under the Foreign Contribution Regulations Act.

In another development, Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar introduced the Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020, and the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement of Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 in the Rajya Sabha on Sunday.

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