The Lok Sabha has passed The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, which was already cleared by the Rajya Sabha.
Speaking at the Lok Sabha today, Nityanand Rai, MoS Home Minister said that the amendments are not against NGOs and are not stopping foreign funds. Nityanand Rai said PM's attempts are to promote national security as "past mistakes" have endangered the country. This amendment is necessary for 'atmanirbhar Bharat', he said. "FCRA is a national and internal security law to ensure that foreign fund shouldn't affect national interests. Here transparency is the main aim," the minister said.
To ensure FCRA is not violated, emergency measures have to be taken, he said. " If we do not freeze the bank accounts of those under investigation, how will we conduct the probe?" he asked.
The minister said the misuse of foreign funds will be prevented through the amendments. He claims that many NGOs use public funds for their personal use, to justify the step to cut administrative expenses from 50% to 20%.
While the Supreme Court has said that Aadhar is not compulsory for identification, but it is a necessity in certain scenarios, he says. The Aadhar Card is a significant proof of identification, he added.
The Government on Sunday proposed the amendments in the FCRA through a bill it introduced in the Lok Sabha or lower house of Parliament.
According to the government, the proposed amendments “seek to streamline the provisions of the FCRA by strengthening the compliance mechanism, enhancing transparency and accountability in the receipt and utilisation of foreign contribution worth thousands of crores of rupees every year”.
The proposed amendments were to bar public servants from receiving foreign funding. The bill also sought to limit the use of foreign funds received under FCRA for administrative purposes from the current limit of 50 per cent to 20 per cent.
“The annual inflow of foreign contribution has almost doubled between the years 2010 and 2019, but many recipients of foreign contribution have not utilised the same for the purpose for which they were registered or granted prior permission under the said Act. Many of them were also found wanting in ensuring basic statutory compliances such as submission of annual returns and maintenance of proper accounts,” according to the proposed amendment.
“This has led to a situation where the central government had to cancel certificates of registration of more than 19,000 recipient organisations, including non-governmental organisations, during the period between 2011 and 2019,” it further read.
“Every person who has been granted certificate or prior permission for foreign funding shall receive foreign contribution only in an account designated as “FCRA Account” which shall be opened by him in such branch of the State Bank of India at New Delhi, as the Central Government may, by notification, specify and for other consequential matters relating thereto,” the proposed amendment read.