NGOs to lose registration for derogatory comments on constitutional bodies

Mohiuddin Alamgir | Published: 00:32, Oct 06,2016



Parliament on Wednesday passed the ‘The Foreign Donations (Voluntary Activities) Regulation Bill 2016’ empowering the government to cancel registration of NGOs for making derogatory and livid comments on the constitution and constitutional institutions.
The bill stipulated that NGOs will not be able to spend more than 20 per cent of total approved project funds as administrative cost.
NGOs receiving foreign funds must register with the NGO Affairs Bureau, submit reports regularly and seek approval for all planned activities before receiving the grant, the bill said.
Agriculture minister Matia Chowdhury, also in-charge of the Prime Minister’s Office in parliament, moved the bill that was passed with a voice vote.
‘There was time when we had tolerated many things of NGOs. If they spend 25 per cent and gobble the rest, we cannot remain silent,’ said the minister, adding, ‘Bangladesh is now a lower middle income country so we can be selective and choosy.’
The bill said that making any derogatory and livid comments on the constitution and constitutional institutions by any individual and an NGO would be a criminal offence and the NGO Affairs Bureau could cancel or withheld the registration or ban their activities.
It also said that the bureau could cancel or withheld the registration of an NGO or ban its activities for engaging in anti-state activities, financing in extremism and terror activities.
‘We are not against the NGOs, but they [NGOs] are not angels,’ Matia said.
Offices of the president, prime minister, parliament, the Supreme Court, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s Office, Public Service Commission, Election Commission are some constitutional bodies of the country.
The bill also empowered the bureau to inspect, monitor and assess NGO activities, and NGOs would need to maintain a bank account to deal with the foreign aid. NGOs will need approval and security clearance for appointing foreign specialists, adviser and officials from the government.
The NGOs and individuals will have to keep all the documents of expenditure at the field-level until five years after the completion of the project, the bill said.
Once the bill is transformed into a law with assents by the president, it will repeal the Foreign Donation (Voluntary Activity) Regulation Ordinance 1978 and the
Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Ordinance, 1982.
According to NGO Affairs Bureau, 251 foreign NGOs are in operation in the country. NGOs of United States, United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea, Australia, Norway, Netherlands, Switzerland, Canada, France, Sweden, Germany and several middle-eastern countries are in operation in Bangladesh. 

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