NGOs have to register with NITI Aayog for grants

July 24, 2016 12:10 am | Updated October 18, 2016 02:14 pm IST - New Delhi:

Stepping up its scrutiny of NGOs, especially their financial dealings, the Centre has made obtaining unique identification numbers and registering them on the NITI Aayog portal, including the details of the Aadhaar and PAN numbers of all their trustees and office- bearers, mandatory for them to apply for grants from any ministry.

The decision was taken by the Aayog at its meeting on May 9, which Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired following which all ministries have been directed to process the proposal for grants and releases to the NGOs only through the Aayog’s portal, according to the minutes seen by The Hindu.

At the meeting to review the progress in providing unique identifiers to entities, Aadhar enrolment and provision of direct benefit transfer and services, it was also decided that a system should be developed to give unique entity numbers to charitable trusts and societies.

“As Aadhaar Act has already been passed by Parliament, it was felt that further steps to use Aadhaar in various schemes …should be initiated in accordance with the provisions of the Act,” the minutes said. The Act was passed earlier this year after the Centre moved it as a money Bill since these need only Lok Sabha’s nod for passage. The Rajya Sabha had approved amendments to the Bill moved by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh, which the Centre bypassed.

Significantly, a June 26 government notification said if an NGO receives government funding in excess of Rs 1 crore, those handling its day-to-day operations will be treated as public servants under the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta Act (2013).

In case of foreign funding, this limit was pegged at Rs 10 lakh a year.

The notification also said that managers, directors, board members of NGOs will have to declare their personal assets, jewellery, cash, moveable and immoveable property by July 31.

They will also be subject to rules and regulations for government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

They will also be subject to rules and regulations for government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The notification has caused considerable consternation in the community raising fears of excessive control by the Centre, though officials maintain the order is only to pave the way for making NGOs accountable.

Though an official source at the Aayog told The Hindu hat registration is non-mandatory, the minutes of the May 9 meeting state that all NGOs “must be registered” with the Ayog’s portal.

The official further clarified that the move aims to smoothen the process of identification, verification and facilitation — at both ends: for beneficiaries as well as contributors. “Whether contributors or beneficiaries, all will be able to access the money trail and the bank accounts…that is the idea behind the registration with unique identifying numbers,” the source said.

N. Ramakrishnan, Executive Director Ideosync Media Combine, said this was only one in a long series of “impositions designed to harass and prevent dissent”.

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