NEW DELHI: All NGOs, which receive foreign funding, have been given one-time exemption of 60 days up to May 18 by the Union home ministry to file their annual financial statement.
In a notification issued on Wednesday, the ministry said the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act mandated submission of annual returns by all NGOs and associations which have been granted certificate of registration or prior permission.
However, many NGOs and associations have sent representations to the Union home ministry for review of the cancellation of their FCRA certificates explaining their circumstances that led to non-filing of annual returns for 2017-18.
Reasons cited by them include being dependent on their accountants or CA firms, who somehow ignored the deadlines, difficulties like floods and mis-handling of log-in or passwords by their CAs.
One common grievance raised by most of the NGOs is that all FCRA process is online and in many cases, the CAs or tax consultants who operate the online account are not aware of the strict monitoring by the Union home ministry.
These NGOs and associations have said they never intended to avoid statutory compliance under the Act.
“In view of the representations made by many such associations, and in exercise of powers conferred on central government under Section 50 of the FCRA, 2010, a one time exemption is hereby granted in public interest to such associations from the restrictive condition of Section 14(3) of the Act to enable them to apply for registration within 60 days from the issuance of this notice provided that such associations shall submit missing annual returns electronically on the FCRA portal along with the prescribed penalty,” the notification said.
Ever since the Narendra Modi government came to power in 2014, the home ministry has cancelled the FCRA registration of over 14,800 NGOs, thus banning them from receiving foreign funds.
Among the reasons for the cancellation of the FCRA registration include financial irregularities and non-filing of annual returns on time.