The Central Government has made a number of things mandatory in order to regulate corruption and misuse of NGOs, particularly in their financial matters. It was already mandatory to obtain Unique Identification numbers and have them registered on the portal of NITI Aayog. Now, in an effort to improve transparency and to keep a check on transactions involving misuse and corruption, the details of PAN and Aadhaar numbers of all the position holders and trustees of the organisation must be registered as well. Failing to do so would render them unable to apply for funding from any ministry of the government.
The NITI Aayog came upon this decision on 9 May 2016. All ministries have been instructed to process applications for grants and assistance from NGOs solely through the NITI Aayog’s portal.
Furthermore, development of a system to assign unique identification numbers to all charitable trusts and societies was also decided in another meeting regarding this matter, along with the provisions of direct benefit transfers and enrollment of Aadhaar.
In accordance with the provisions of the Aadhaar Act, this is one of the steps to involve the use of Aadhaar in various schemes of the government. Inclusion of the Aadhaar provides the factor of an additional security as there is biometric data of the participants involved which can be used to identify the individuals.
Another notification to heed to in particular is a June 26 notification of the Centre. It states that, in accordance with the Lokpal and Lok Ayukta Act (2013), the members handling an NGO’s everyday operations will be treated as public servants if an NGO acquires government funding exceeding Rs. 1 carore. This limit is marked at Rs. 10 lakh per year in case of foreign funding.
The notification also says that trustees and office holders of the NGOs must declare their moveable and immovable properties, cash, personal assets and jewellery by July 31.
They are subject to rules and regulations for government officials under the Prevention of Corruption Act too.
While the notification and regulations are an effort to increase the accountability of the NGOs, the notification has also caused a little chaos and raised some fears as it is being interpreted as an attempt to increase the Centre’s control in these regards.
The motive behind these reforms is to ease the process of identifying, verifying and maintanance for the receivers as well as the donors.