‘Audit irregularities’ at Missionaries of Charity led to FCRA denial, says official

MHA has rejected renewal of the group’s FCRA

The FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity, a Catholic religious congregation set up by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa was not renewed due to “audit irregularities,” a senior government official said on Tuesday.

The comment comes a day after the Ministry of Home Affairs had said it refused to renew the Foreigners Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) registration of Missionaries of Charity (MoC) as “some adverse inputs were noticed.”

FCRA registration is mandatory for any NGO or association to receive foreign funds or donations. MHA is the controlling authority of FCRA and it conducts inspections and audits of NGOs to establish if their books are in order.

The latest annual financial returns filed by MoC on December 13, running into 76 pages, had detailed the donations and expenditures incurred by the organisation, set up by Mother Teresa in 1950.

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MHA said in a statement on Monday that the renewal was refused on December 25 for not meeting the eligibility conditions and MoC had not requested to review the refusal.

In 2015, the Ministry amended the FCRA rules that mandated NGOs to file returns quarterly and give an undertaking that the acceptance of foreign funds is not likely to prejudicially affect the “sovereignty and integrity of India or impact friendly relations with foreign state and does not disrupt communal harmony.”

According to the returns filed by the MoC. it had received over ₹75 crore donation from 347 foreign individuals and 59 institutional donors and the total balance stood at ₹103.76 crore. The NGO registered in Kolkata has more than 250 bank accounts across the country to utilise the foreign funds.

While filing the returns, the NGOs have to fill a column comprising 15 questions on whether it has transferred the donation to any other NGO or if the functionary has been prosecuted or convicted for indulging in activities aimed at religious conversion, among others.

Also read: Missionaries of Charities funds were cut after FIR alleged religious conversion

MoC stated that it had inadvertently received ₹3,50,000 domestic contribution in its FCRA account. It declared that it had sold vehicles and demolished building material- fixed assets borne out of foreign funds in the said financial year.

The FCRA, first enacted in 1976 was amended in the year 2010 and again in September 2020. The latest amendment to the Act inserted a new provision that makes it mandatory for all NGOs to receive foreign funds through a single, designated bank account at the State Bank of India’s New Delhi branch. Any other bank account can be linked to the main account but all foreign donations should be received in the SBI account.

The Act also made Aadhar a mandatory identification document for all office bearers, directors and other key functionaries of an NGO and capped the administrative expenses at 20% of the total foreign funds received, earlier the upper limit was 50%. The amendment also barred sub-granting by NGOs to smaller NGOs who work at the grass roots.

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