The Ministry of Home Affairs amended existing FCRA guidelines, increasing the amount of money that Indian individuals can receive from relatives living abroad from Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh. The deadline for declaring the funds has also been extended.
The Union Home Ministry has revised several regulations under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA), making it possible for Indians to receive up to Rs 10 lakhs from relatives living abroad without informing the authorities.
The earlier limit was Rs 1 lakh. The home ministry also stated in a notification that if the sum is exceeded, individuals will have 90 days to inform the government rather than 30 days.
On Friday night, the home ministry notified the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Rules, 2022 through a gazette notification.
“In Rule 6 of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Rules, 2011, for the terms “one lakh rupees,” the terms “ten lakh rupees” shall be substituted; and for the terms “thirty days,” the terms “three months” shall be substituted,” according to the announcement.
Rule 6 addresses the possibility of receiving foreign donations from relatives.
As stated earlier, “any person receiving a foreign contribution over Rs 1 lakh or equivalent to that from his/her relatives in a fiscal year shall notify the central government with the details of the funds within 30 days of such receipt.”
Similarly, the amended rules have given individuals and organizations or NGOs 45 days to notify the home ministry about the utilization of such funds, making changes in rule 9, which deals with the application to obtain ‘registration’ or ‘prior approval’ under the FCRA to receive funds. This time limit was previously set at 30 days.
The central government has also ‘omitted’ paragraph ‘b’ in rule 13, which dealt with declaring foreign funds on its website every quarter, including details of donors, amount received, and date of receipt, among other things.
Under the FCRA, anyone receiving foreign funds will now be required to comply with the existing provision of posting the audited statement of accounts on receipts and utilization of the foreign contribution, including income and expenditure statement, receipt and payment account, and balance sheet, for each fiscal year beginning on April 1st, within nine months of the financial year’s close, on its official website or the website specified by the Centre.
A provision where an NGO or individual receiving foreign funding declares such contributions on its official website every quarter has also been removed.
In case of a change of bank account, name, address, goals, or key members of an organization (s) receiving foreign funds, the home ministry now allows 45 days to notify it, rather than the last 15 days.
In November 2020, the home ministry toughened the FCRA guidelines. They made it clear that NGOs not directly affiliated with a political party but engaged in political action like bandhs, strikes, or road blockades will be considered political.
The organizations covered under this category include farmers’ organizations, students, workers’ organizations, and caste-based organizations.
The government prohibited public officials from collecting foreign donations in the modified FCRA and made Aadhaar mandatory for all NGOs’ office-bearers.
The new rule also states that organizations receiving foreign funds may not use more than 20% of those revenues for administrative purposes. Before 2020, this maximum was 50%. All NGOs receiving funds are required by law to register with the FCRA.