The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) on May 18 extended the deadline for non-government organisations (NGOs) to activate accounts with the State Bank of India’s (SBI) main branch in Delhi (NDMB), a compulsory requirement to receive foreign funds, from March 31 to June 30.
However, 10 NGOs petitioned the Delhi High Court the same day (May 18), seeking a longer extension of six months and seeking the court’s intervention in operationalising their foreign contribution accounts.
The Ministry granted the extension, a day before the petition is to be heard by the court on Thursday.
The SBI, in a press release on May 17, said that “out of the total 22,598 active FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act] associations, 17,611 entities (NGOs and Associations) approached SBI for opening of FCRA accounts.”
According to the amended provisions of the FCRA enacted in September 2020, NGOs were asked to open accounts with the NDMB by March 31, failing which they will not be able to receive any fresh funds.
The Ministry issued an order on May 18, where it said that “keeping in view the exigencies arising out of the COVID-19 situation and to ensure smooth transition to the amended FCRA regime” the Central government, under section 50 of the FCRA, 2010 was making an amendment to allow NGOs to open an account with the SBI up to June 30 or earlier. “After that date, they shall not be eligible to receive foreign contribution in any other account other than the FCRA account opened in the NDMB,” the order said.
The MHA has also given a relief up to September 30 to the NGOs whose registration was expiring between September 29, 2020-May 31,2021. The NGOs had to apply for renewal of certificates or registration by May 31, which has now been extended to September 30, the Ministry said in an order.
The Act also made Aadhar a mandatory identification document for all the office-bearers, directors and other key functionaries of an NGO and capped the administrative expenses at 20% of the total foreign funds received. Earlier, the upper limit was 50%. The amendment also barred sub-granting by NGOs to smaller NGOs who work at the grass roots.
Registered NGOs can receive foreign contribution for five purposes — social, educational, religious, economic and cultural.
The ministry also issued another order on Tuesday saying that the validity of FCRA licences that expired or have been expiring since September 2020 will now remain valid till September end this year
गृह मंत्रालय ने NGO के लिए FCRA रजिस्ट्रेशन की तारीख 30 सितंबर तक बढ़ाई