Charities being strictly monitored in Punjab: PCC

Any unregistered NGO found collecting donations to be banned

The Punjab government on Friday convened a high-level meeting of the Punjab Charity Commission (PCC) to analyze charitable trusts and their activities, with the provincial government working effortlessly since it emerged that some charities were involved in funding terrorist activities.

The 15th meeting of the PCC that was held at the Civil Secretariat Lahore. Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Home and PCC Chairman Zafar Nasrullah chaired the meeting, while Punjab ACS Syed Ali Murtaza and other officers of the commission attended it.

The meeting discussed different aspects to meet the strict criteria of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF).

Earlier in 2018, the Punjab government had passed a law titled the Punjab Charities Act 2018. According to the act, a commission was established to look after all activities of the trusts, charities, non-government organizations (NGOs), non-profit organizations (NPOs), welfare organizations etc. It was mandated that all welfare organizations and societies be registered under the commission. The commission was also to de-register the organizations that failed to meet strict criteria set by the Punjab government.

The purpose of the law was to stop terror financing and fuelling of harmful sectarianism in the country.

According to the strict codes of the commission only registered organizations could collect donations and charity from the donors. However, an official source confided that some organizations were still unregistered with the commission. The commission has been extending the date for registration from time to time and at present, the last date would be February 15, 2022. He, however, stressed that the commission would not allow such entities to work in the province.

The PCC occasionally floats ads in media outlets and websites to register complaints. If any citizen or the donor thinks that the welfare organization is not doing what it claims to do, they may approach the commission on the given number. Moreover, if one suspects that a trust was harming people, involved in illegal activity, or being used for personal gains, the commission may be approached for further action.

Moreover, if one finds that and NGO or NPO was involved in any anti-state and terrorist activities, they may register a complaint with the commission. And if a trust was involved in any other abusive work or its advertising campaign was deemed offensive, deceptive, or inaccurate, the commission upon complaint would act according to the law.

Many people also raise concerns regarding charity fundraising, tactics used by the fundraisers, how much money the charity had collected and where it was spent etc.

The organizations that failed to register themselves with the commission or were involved in any suspicious activities not only have their accounts frozen but also have their properties confiscated. Moreover, under the new law, the Home Department may proscribe an organization if it was found that it was concerned with terrorism or other such anti-state or sectarian activity.

Javed Iqbal is a special correspondent covering the Punjab government with a particular focus on bureaucracy. He has unearthed a number of mega scams while working with leading media houses. He tweets @javedjahangiri and can be reached at javediqbal344@gmail.com.

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