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Sri Lanka proposes legislation to monitor NGO spending

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The government is set to introduce the Non-Governmental Organisations (Registration and Supervision) Bill to Parliament, aiming to regulate the spending and activities of NGOs. These organizations, funded by foreign sources for initiatives like gender rights and democratic governance, are currently registered as guaranteed companies under the Registrar of Companies.

Several prominent NGOs, funded by various foreign sources for initiatives such as gender rights, human rights, and democratic governance, are registered merely as guaranteed companies under the Registrar of Companies. According to a senior source, this registration status has prevented the National NGO Secretariat from monitoring their expenses and activities effectively.

Last year, NGOs registered with the Secretariat received funding amounting to as much as £82.5 million. The source noted that an even larger sum is likely to have been spent by other significant NGOs funded by sources in some powerful countries.

To address these concerns, the proposed Non-Governmental Organisations (Registration and Supervision) Bill, which is now in its final stage before being presented in Parliament for enactment, aims to establish a proper mechanism for overseeing the spending and activities of such NGOs.

The NGOs in question are currently registered as guaranteed companies under the Registrar of Companies. The source explained, “The NGO Secretariat has no supervision on their spending on various projects. That is why we have called for the enactment of the new law.”

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These leading NGOs, which have previously protested against the proposed legislation, engaged with the Colombo-based diplomatic community. Subsequently, the U.S. State Department submitted observations to be incorporated into the new bill.

According to the Public Security Ministry, these observations, along with input from NGOs and other civil society organisations, have been referred to the Legal Draftsman’s Department for consideration in the development of the new bill.

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