Despite Kinks, Home Ministry’s New System Will Expand Efforts to Closely Monitor Foreign-Funded NGOs

NGOPlanned monitoring includes breaking down foreign contribution receipts “purpose-wise and country-wise” while carrying out a monthly trend analysis of the “credit and debit transactions” of “top persons”.

Nearly two years after the Modi government decided to implement stricter checks on the flow and usage of foreign funds by NGOs in India, the home ministry’s efforts to link the bank accounts of NGOs with a central government digital payment processing system hasn’t gone off smoothly.

Nevertheless, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, as the kinks get worked out, it will become the government’s most expansive attempt at monitoring and analysing the bank accounts and expenditure of foreign-funded NGOs.

According to internal home ministry documentation, in addition to automated alerts for basic bank transactions, the MHA plans on keeping a track of “sudden rise in foreign contribution credit of persons” as well as a “month-wise trend analysis” of the credit and debit transactions of “top persons”.

In June 2015, media reports detailed the home ministry’s efforts to construct an automated system whereby it would receive real-time alerts of when NGOs received foreign funds. The decision to do so came just months after the Modi government cancelled the licenses of nearly 13,000 NGOs for alleged violation of rules that governed foreign funding.

The goal, quite simply, was to link the bank accounts of NGOs that came under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) to the Centre’s public financial management system (PFMS). The PMFS, managed by the finance ministry

controller general of accounts, handles the processing and tracking of payments for a number of government schemes including MGNREGS.

The FCRA-PFMS system therefore would monitor the receipt and utilisation of any foreign contribution credited in the bank accounts of NGOs that had received permission to accept foreign funds under the FCRA.

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