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In India, NGOs fear government takeover of foreign funds already collected

In India, NGOs fear government takeover of foreign funds already collected

On January 1, the government of India informed more than 170 non-profit organisations, including the Indian arm of the leading global charity Oxfam, that their licence to receive foreign funds had not been renewed.

The news came as a crushing blow to the organisations but one clause in the government’s public notice issued the previous day, on December 31, left them particularly anxious. It said these organisations were not eligible “either to receive the foreign contribution or utilise the foreign contribution received”.

If the organisations cannot utilise existing funds, then what happens to that money and the assets bought with it?

Legal amendments made in 2020 to the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010 and its Rules empower the government to take control of foreign funds and assets created using foreign funds if the organisation surrenders its FCRA licence or it does not apply for it to be renewed.

However, experts point out that there is still ambiguity on what will happen to the foreign funds and assets created using foreign funds in case an organisation applies for renewal but the government rejects it.

Around 13,000 organisations are waiting for their licences to be renewed.

The government’s December 31 missive has left these organisations fearing the worst. FCRA experts say...

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