Govt backs bill to police NGO income

Govt backs bill to police NGO income

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana

The cabinet has tentatively agreed to a bill requiring non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to declare their financial sources or risk prosecution.

Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Tuesday the cabinet agreed in principle with the bill after it was vetted by the Council of State, the government's legal arm.

The cabinet has now assigned the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security to conduct a public hearing on the bill. After that, it will be returned to the cabinet which will decide whether to approve it or not. If approved, the bill will be forwarded for deliberation in parliament.

Mr Thanakorn said the bill was conceived in the best interests of the public and its scrutiny was above board and transparent since it will be subject to a public hearing.

The bill stipulates the formation of a committee chaired by the social development and human security minister to recommend tax incentives for NGOs and their donors.

However, NGOs will be required by law to disclose mission statements and the sources of their funding. The bill would prohibit them from engaging in activities detrimental to national security or social harmony.

If they obtain overseas funding, they must list the names of the financial sources and furnish details of the bank accounts used for receiving the money.

Spending plans will also need to be explained to ensure money is not used for the purpose of influencing state power or pandering to the interests of a political party.

Records of funding and expenses during each calendar year over at least three years will have to be kept for official auditing. Any NGOs that break the law would have their activities suspended. They would also be liable for criminal action. Civil groups led by the People's Movement for a Just Society (P-move) say the bill reflects the government's aim to control the civil sector.

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