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January 14, 2015

Law to monitor INGOs finances, actions on the anvil

Islamabad

January 14, 2015

Islamabad
In order to implement National Action Plan (NAP) for rooting out terrorism, the government is all set to submit much-awaited draft of Foreign Contribution Act 2015 before the Cabinet, proposing to bind International Non-Governmental Organisations (INGOs) having annual portfolio of $5 million to get themselves registered, declare details of all foreign funding sources and to place effective monitoring mechanism.
"The Ministry of Law has been vetting the law after incorporating views of FBR and State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) and this draft law will be re-submitted before the Cabinet within this month," top official sources confirmed to The News here on Monday.
Earlier, this law was submitted to Cabinet seven months back and the Cabinet directed the authorities concerned to incorporate viewpoint of FBR and SBP too and then authorities concerned slept over it for several months.
As the NAP was finalised in the aftermath of terrorist attack at Army Public School (APS) at Peshawar, it was pointed out that the foreign funding for INGOs should also be checked and monitored then this forgotten Foreign Contribution Act came to the surface. Now the FBR and SBP have submitted their views and the draft law was sent out to Ministry of Law for vetting purposes.
According to the proposed draft, any person, subject to this Act, who knowingly, gives false information; or seeks registration by means of fraud, false representation or concealment of material facts, shall be punishable to imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months or with fine or with both.
For punishment for contravention of any provision of the Act, the draft bill states that any person subject to this act who conceals or assists any person in concealing, utilisation of any foreign contribution without registration under this shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or fine, or both.
For penalty for violation of rules, regulations,

directives etc, this bill entails that whoever fails or refuses to comply with any provisions of the Act, may be liable to pay a penalty not exceeding Rs1 million and in case of continuing default, a further sum calculated at a rate not exceeding ten thousand rupees for every day, if such refusal, failure or contravention continues.
Any INGO desirous of utilising foreign contribution within Pakistan shall require prior registration with the Federal Government.
Any INGO registered under any law for the time being in force which, prior to commencement of this Act, is utilising foreign contribution without being registered under this Act shall require registration within a period of four months from the date on which this Act comes into force.
The application for registration shall be submitted by the INGO to the Federal Government in the form shall be shared with and vetted by the Ministry of Interior, the provincial governments and / or local governments and other relevant stakeholders.
The application shall be processed expeditiously and in any case within four months of receipt.
Subject to concurrence of all concerned, INGOs shall sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the Federal Government for a period of five years from the date of signature as agreed between the Federal Government and the INGO but may be terminated earlier by either party after giving 3 months' notice.
The Memorandum of Understanding may be terminated and the registration cancelled in case of violation of any provision thereof or other grounds stated therein,, subject to the INGO being given an opportunity of being heard.
An INGO may, in case of emergency, utilise any foreign contribution for a specified purpose after obtaining prior permission of the Federal Government which shall be valid for a specified period and for a specific geographical location within Pakistan.
In case of rejection of the application for registration or for renewal or in case of termination or cancellation of the Memorandum of Understanding, the INGO may, within 60 days, apply for a review of the decision.
The application for review shall be considered by a Review Committee chaired by the Secretary, Economic Affairs Division and comprising senior level representatives of the Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, other concerned ministries of the Federal Government, the provincial governments and / or local governments.
The Review Committee shall submit its recommendations to the federal government, after affording the INGO an opportunity of being heard decision taken by the Federal Government after receipt of recommendations of the Review Committee shall be final.
For accounts and audit, the draft legislation states that an INGO registered under this Act shall declare to the Federal Government details of all foreign contributions, along with the terms and conditions of those contributions, as well as details of all bank accounts maintained by it.
An INGO registered under this Act shall maintain accounts under internationally recognised accounting standards and get these accounts audited on an annual basis by a Chartered Accountant registered in Pakistan or abroad and shall provide to the Federal Government a copy of the audited annual statements, along with a certificate from the Auditors to the effect that the foreign contributions have been utilised for the purposes and in the locations specified in the Memorandum of Understanding.
An INGO registered under this Act shall provide to the Federal Government and the concerned provincial government / local government, on an annual basis, a report regarding its activities with reference to the purposes, locations and foreign contributions specified in the Memorandum of Understanding.
The Planning and Development Departments of the provincial governments may review the activities of the INGO in the context of their development framework and priorities, and may convey recommendations to the Federal Government from time to time.
The INGO shall provide any information that the Federal Government may require from time to time, and such information may be verified by the Federal Government
Any person desirous of utilising foreign contribution equivalent to Rs1 million or above in a financial year shall apply to the Commission for grant of certificate.
Every person whose certificate has been suspended shall not receive any foreign contribution during the period of suspension of certificate except as may be allowed by the Federal Government if it considers appropriate, on such terms and conditions as may be prescribed.
The Federal Government or the Commission as the case may be, can be ordered for special audits of the accounts of an INGO or person through a firm of Chartered Accountants within the meaning of the Chartered Accountants Ordinance, 1961 (X to 1961).
Where an offence under this Act has been committed by a person, every director, manager, secretary, promoter, member of governing body, 'mutawalli', member of 'waqf' committee, trustee or any other person, as the case may be, who at the time of commission of offence was in charge of, or was responsible for managing the affairs of the person shall be guilty of the offence.
For recovery of penalties, any penalty imposed by the Commission or the Federal Government, as the case may be, in the exercise of its powers under section 21 shall be payable to the Federal Government and may be recovered as arrears of land revenue.

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