Lawmakers to empower ICPC regulate foreign financial aid to religious, educational organisations
by KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja
July 2, 2014 | 7:04 pm| | | Start Conversation
House of Representatives Wednesday unveiled plans to empower Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) to monitor inflow and utilisation of all monies obtained by voluntary organisations from donor agencies.
BusinessDay gathered that the move was part of efforts geared towards combating money laundering and funding of terrorism activities in the country as well as ensure transparency, integrity and accountability in the utilisation of the fund approved by Commission.
Ini Udoka, chairman, House Committee on Civil Society and Donor Agencies gave the hint at a day public hearing on “A bill for an Act to regulate the acceptance and utilisation of financial/material contribution of donor agencies to voluntary organisation and for other matters connected therewith, 2013.”
Speaking against the proposed bill, Fidel Ntufan, Executive Secretary of National Planning Commission (NPC) noted that section 71 of the NPC Act, 2003 empowers it to monitor the influx and utilisation of cash donations from foreign development partners to NGOs and CSOs.
“Foreign donations have played a role in or development for over six decades even though marginally. The funds as well as activities of their beneficiaries have always been regulated by us. In our administration of official development assistance (ODA), we always ensure that whatever is received is in line with our developmental aspiration as a country.”
Section 2(a, b) of the proposed bill provides that “No voluntary organisation shall accept any foreign financial/material contribution except with the permission of the ICPC. Except such gift is reported to ICPC, no person resident in Nigeria shall accept any foreign financial contribution on behalf of any voluntary organisations referred to in subsection (1) of this section.
According to Section 3(1), “All voluntary organisations having a defined cultural, economic, educational, religious or social programmes cannot accept financial contribution from donor agencies;” while section 3(2ii) provides that such organisation must “agree to receive such contribution only through one of the branches of a Nigerian bank as it may specify in its application for such registration.”
Under the new arrangement, ICPC is to approve the application and dispose within 60 days from the date of receipt of such application.
The bill however provides that any registered voluntary organisations with Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) must also register with ICPC while subsection 4(1) provides that “All voluntary organisations shall make an application for permission to the ICPC in such form and in such manner as may be prescribed.
Section 5 also provides that ICPC “may prohibit any voluntary organisations from accepting any foreign financial contribution if it considers such contribution as likely to affect: the sovereignty and integrity of Nigeria; adverse diplomatic relation of any foreign country; religious harmony in Nigeria and a likely source of money laundering.”
Udoka who expressed concern over the abuse of the huge foreign assistance channelled through CSOs into the country, however stressed the need for enacting a legal framework for the effective regulation and ensure utilisation of the aids.
“This inevitably demands monitoring. The seventh Assembly of the House of Representatives in its committed efforts to expose and fight corruption has enacted relevant laws to curb wastage and introduce sanity in the ways private and public businesses are conducted. The bill before the public today is supposed to serve a similar purpose.
“The bill we are here to discuss into law will ensure effective utilisation of resources provided by donors and also ensure there is no duplication of programmes for which appropriation has been made by the national government.
“It will streamline activities in this sub-sector by ensuring that donor agencies do not give monies to organisations, parastatals and agencies without due consultation with relevant government authorities. The bill aims at empowering the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences commission (ICPC) being regulatory authority to monitor the disbursement of funds from donor agencies for effective implementation of targeted projects.”
While declaring the public hearing open, Aminu Tambuwal, Speaker of the House of Representatives who was represented by Leo Ogor, Deputy House Leader emphasised the need for CSOs to make their input into the bill especially on how it affects their operations.
In his contribution, Eddy Mbadiwe, sponsor of the bill expressed concern over the abuse of the contributions that comes into this country from various donor agencies across the world.
“There has been an abuse of contributions that comes into this country. Some people have formed NGOs to collect monies without using them for the purpose of collecting it,” he noted.
KEHINDE AKINTOLA, Abuja
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