Registration of INGOs in Bangladesh
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Since August 2017, more than 830 000 Rohingyas have sheltered in Bangladesh, having escaped violence and persecution in Myanmar. The vast majority of them are women and children. The momentum and scale of arrivals make this the world's fastest-growing refugee crisis.
The incoming refugees are housed in the upazilas at Cox's Bazar where extensive pressure is being placed on resources. As a result, a large number of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) have already come into the region, are in the process of coming in, or are intending to come in, to provide their support to the Rohingya people.
Registration process of INGOs
It should be borne in mind that an organization cannot be registered without the prior approval of the Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of Bangladesh. On an application for registration being made by an INGO to the NGOAB, it will thereafter be forwarded to the Ministry for consideration. Within 60 days after receiving a letter from the NGOAB requesting an opinion on the application, the Ministry, following an investigation by National Security Intelligence (NSI) and Special Branch (SB) of police, shall provide such opinion to the NGOAB.
Subsequent to sending the request letter to the Ministry, within the 60 days' time-frame, the NGOAB shall further issue a reminder letter to the Ministry, every 30 days in order to ensure that the Ministry takes prompt action about the application for registration. If no opinion from the Ministry is forthcoming within the specified timeframe, it shall be deemed that the Ministry has no objection regarding the application for registration. However, on a practical note, the NGOAB only proceeds with the application after receiving clearance from the Ministry.
Once the registration proposal is approved after completing all necessary tasks after the submission of the application, the NGOAB shall provide the Certificate of Registration to the INGO.
The INGO shall have to make an application for registration in Form FD-1. The following documents shall have to be submitted during the application:
a) FD-1 Form (signed by the Chief Executive/Country Representative in Bangladesh. [09 copies]
b) Certificate of Incorporation in the country of origin of the NGO. [03 copies]
c) Constitutional documents of the NGO. [04 copies]
d) Activities Report (activities of the NGO) [06 copies]
e) Plan of operation of the NGO in Bangladesh with Organogram. [04 copies]
f) The decision of the Board/Committee to open an office in Bangladesh. [04 copies]
g) Letter of appointment of the country representative. [04 copies]
h) Copy of Treasury Chalan in support of depositing USD 9,000 equivalent amount in BDT, in the code 1-0323-0000-1836 and 15 % Vat on the said amount, with code 1-1133-00 35-0311. [03 copies]
i) Deed of Agreement with the landlord in support of opening office in Bangladesh. [03 copies]
j) List of Board of Directors/Executive Committee of the NGO. [04 copies]
k) Letter of intent. [05 copies]
As can be seen from the list, the INGO shall have to deposit a registration fee. This fee needs to be deposited in a government bank and a copy of the Treasury Chalan shall have to be submitted during the application. With regards to the registration fee, a question which is quite frequently asked is, whether the INGO can make this payment through wire transfer from their home country, as the INGO cannot have any bank account in Bangladesh at this stage. It should be noted that the registration fee cannot be made through wire transfer and has to be deposited in cash, and thus, a bank account is not required to make this payment.
On receipt of an application, the Director General of the NGOAB may call for any other information which is considered to be relevant, within a specified time. Upon thorough consideration of the application, and subject to the opinion of the Ministry of Home Affairs and The Bank and Financial Institution department of the Ministry of Finance, the Direct General shall provide the INGO with the requisite registration, and such registration shall, unless cancelled earlier, remain valid for 10 (ten) years, renewable after every 10 (ten) years thereafter. The registration letter shall contain a detailed description of the conditions the INGO is required to follow during their operations.
Barrister Shafquat Alamgir is Associate, Legal Counsel