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Govt. designates single SBI branch for all FCRA accounts

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The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has asked all NGOs seeking foreign donations to open a designated FCRA account at the State Bank of India’s New Delhi branch by March 31, 2021.

The MHA order reiterated that NGOs registered under FCRA shall not receive any foreign donations in any other bank account from April 1, 2021.

In September, the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2020 was amended by Parliament and a new provision that makes it mandatory for all non-government organisations and associations to receive foreign funds in a designated bank account at SBI’s New Delhi branch was inserted.

An order specifying the process of opening the FCRA bank account was issued by the MHA on Tuesday. As of now there are 22,434 such NGOs and associations active under the FCRA.

The Hindu Explains | What is Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, and how does it control donations?

The order said an NGO will have to report the amount and source of foreign remittance received to the authorities.

The order said the Centre has notified the New Delhi Main Branch (NDMB) of SBI, 11 Sansad Marg, New Delhi-110001 for the purposes of opening the “FCRA account” to receive foreign contribution.

MHA said to open the account, the applicant need not visit the NDMB in Delhi and they might approach the nearest SBI branch or their SBI branch of choice.

It said that all persons/associations/NGOs who are already registered under FCRA will get sufficient time to transition to the new system and can open accounts at NDMB till March 31, 2021.

Also read | The foreign hand: The Hindu editorial on FCRA amendments

“However, all fresh applicants for certificate of registration or prior permission under the FCRA, 2010, shall have to first open the FCRA account in the NDMB to receive any foreign contribution…,” the order said.

“It is further clarified that the applicant person/NGO/ association has complete liberty to retain its present FCRA account as the another FCRA account in any branch of a scheduled bank of its choice. They can link this account with the designated FCRA account opened in NDMB, Delhi,” MHA said adding that NDMB will not levy any fee to transfer the foreign funds to the designated FCRA account.

After the Lok Sabha passed the The Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2020 on September 21, Opposition raised concerns that the legislation may be used to target political opponents and religious minorities.

FCRA regulates foreign donations and ensures that such contributions do not adversely affect the internal security of the country. The Act, first enacted in 1976 was amended in the year 2010 when a slew of new measures were taken by the Union Home Ministry to regulate foreign donations.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 11:21:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/govt-designates-single-sbi-branch-for-all-fcra-accounts/article32844158.ece

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