ISLAMABAD: The federal government has finalised a revised draft law in line with National Action Plan (NAP) to monitor activities and foreign funding of local and international non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the sources told ‘The News’ here on Monday.
“The previous attempts to finalise draft of Foreign Contributions Act regarding monitoring of the local and international NGOs hit snags due to severe resistance from the foreign donors and countries like the United States,” the sources said.
It is pertinent to mention here that the US ambassador to Pakistan held a detailed meeting with the finance minister last month and showed concerns on behalf of the local and international NGOs over the proposed regulations regarding foreign funding of the NGOs.
The sources said this time the draft of the law had been prepared by the Economic Affairs Division of the Finance Ministry in consultation with all the stakeholders and suggestions made by the United States and the government was now quite serious to get it passed from the National Assembly.
They said some European countries and the United States had ‘advised’ the Pakistan’s government to keep in mind the concerns of the local and international NGOs while preparing the draft law as most of them were worried about high-handedness by the government agencies during the registration and monitoring process.
Surprisingly, the draft law appears silent over the funds given to madaris and religious seminaries by the foreign donors despite the fact that monitoring of such funds was made part of National Action Plan (NAP) to root out extremism and terrorism from the society.
According to the draft, the international NGOs will be required to seek registration with the Economic Affairs Division and sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with it valid for up to five years whereas the local NGOs would be required to obtain a registration certificate from the Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP).
It proposes one-year jail sentence for concealment of the foreign contributions as all the local and international NGOs would be required to provide complete record of the funds received by them from the international donors.A central data system would be set up that would enable the NGOs to post their annual financial, performance and audit reports in line with the directions of the federal government.
The draft also proposes the restriction on the local and international NGOs to spend 80 percent of the foreign donation on the welfare work and only 20 percent for the recurring budget including salaries, allowances and other privileges.
The government would immediately freeze bank accounts and cancel registration of those NGOs that would be found involved in activities against the pubic interest and law and the Constitution.
The draft states if the government cancels registration of any NGO, its representatives cannot transfer its assets or administrative powers to any other institution and if any one found involved in it he/she can be awarded six months to three years imprisonment along with fine. Despite repeated attempts by this correspondent, Minister for Finance Ishaq Dar was not available for comments.