FILE - In this Sunday, June 14, 2015 file photo, a Pakistani police officer stands guard outside a sealed office of international aid group Save the Children, in Islamabad, Pakistan. Pakistan is kicking out 18 international charities after rejecting their final appeal to stay in the country, a move that an aid group spokesman said Thursday, Dec. 6, 2018 would affect millions of desperately poor Pakistanis and lead to tens of millions of aid dollars lost. (AP Photo/Anjum Naveed, File)

The Ministry of Economic Affairs has announced ‘NGO policy 2021’ for the non-government organisations (NGOs) and has made two-year fieldwork mandatory to receive foreign aid.

The policy was approved by the Economic Coordination Committee in a meeting chaired by Finance Minister Shaukat Tarin earlier this week.

According to the policy document, NGOs involved in money laundering and terror financing will be completely banned from receiving foreign aid. Those NGOs who provide false information cannot obtain external aid either, as per the new policy.

A two-year fieldwork has been made mandatory to receive foreign aid. NGOs must complete the registration process in 60 days. The NGOs who will receive foreign contributions will not be able to enter the “restricted areas”.

NGOs that received aid from abroad should not be involved in anti-state activities, the policy stated, adding that $10,000 from an individual is not included in the foreign contribution. The NGOs must have registered bank accounts to run financial affairs and keep a record of foreign contributions.

Audit of accounts has also been made mandatory for the NGOs. The NGO policy 2021 says foreign aid will be spent on socio-economic development. In case of emergency, policy exemption will be available for six months.

The government and its agencies participated in the preparation of the policy, the document said.

In Oct 2018, Pakistan had ordered 18 international aid agencies to shut down operations and leave the country, according to a report in Reuters.

Most of the groups do work on human rights issues, and a previous shutdown order accused one aid agency of pursuing “an anti-state agenda”.

ActionAid, which focuses on education, poverty alleviation and human rights and is headquartered in Johannesburg, said it had received an expulsion notice from Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior. A statement issued by ActionAid had called the move “an attack on civil society and human rights organizations”.

ActionAid along with 17 other foreign relief organisations had appealed expulsion orders issued late last year to 27 NGOs in all, mostly those working on human rights issues.

The author is a business correspondent based in Islamabad.

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