Legal Advisory Note: Regulation of International NGOs (“INGOs”) in Pakistan
The Ministry of Interior (MOI) regulates International NGOs through the Policy for Regulation of International Non-Governmental Organizations 2015 (the “2015 INGO Policy”). The 2015 INGO Policy encompasses the registration, functioning, funding, monitoring, and other relevant aspects concerning all types of INGOs operating within Pakistan. It is applicable to INGOs receiving foreign contributions or utilizing foreign economic assistance for various development programs in Pakistan, even if they are not formally registered in the country.
Registration with the MOI is mandatory for INGOs receiving foreign contributions (funds, materials, and services) from abroad or utilizing foreign economic assistance for their operations in Pakistan. INGOs must complete the registration process within ten (10) days of commencing their activities.
Upon approval of the registration application, the INGO is required to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government of Pakistan. The MOU remains valid for a period of up to three (03) years. Under the terms of the MOU, the INGO is permitted to establish headquarters and field offices, open bank accounts, and hire local employees to facilitate their operations in Pakistan.
It is essential to note that INGOs are not authorized to raise funds or receive donations locally unless expressly authorized to do so. Any such fundraising activities must comply with the terms of the MOU and relevant regulations.
The MOI holds discretionary power in granting permission for INGOs to operate in Pakistan. The MOI may cancel the registration and permission to operate in case of any breach of security or involvement in activities inconsistent with Pakistan’s national interests or contrary to Government policies.
INGOs are strongly advised to adhere strictly to the provisions of the 2015 INGO Policy and comply with all registration and operational requirements. Any non-compliance or violation of the policy may result in legal consequences and termination of their operations in Pakistan.
For further information or clarification regarding the registration process, INGOs are encouraged to contact the designated department responsible for handling INGO affairs at the Ministry of Interior or they can get in touch with the Josh and Mak International Team at email@example.com
Josh and Mak International can offer the following legal services for INGOs (International NGOs):
- Registration Assistance: Josh and Mak International can provide guidance on the type of registration required for an international not-for-profit organization (INGO) to legally operate and conduct business in Pakistan. They will offer advisory services on the registration process and provide an illustrative timeline, including important milestones, related to the local registration process. The firm’s experience with INGO registration will enable them to efficiently complete the registration process within a short time period.
- Labor Law Expertise: Josh and Mak International can provide expertise on Pakistan’s labor laws. This includes reviewing the personnel manual and hiring documents of the INGO to ensure compliance with local labor regulations. They can offer advisory services on recruitment, hiring, and termination requirements, ensuring that the organization follows the legal framework while managing its human resources.
By offering these legal advisory services, Josh and Mak International can support INGOs in establishing their main office in Islamabad and any regional offices necessary for project execution and management. They will assist INGOs in navigating the legal landscape of Pakistan, ensuring compliance with registration and labor laws, and providing valuable insights for smooth operations within the country
Apart from the services mentioned earlier, Josh and Mak International can offer the following additional legal services to International NGOs (INGOs) operating in Pakistan:
- Compliance and Regulatory Support: Josh and Mak International can assist INGOs in understanding and complying with various regulatory requirements in Pakistan. This includes providing guidance on tax compliance, reporting obligations, and other relevant legal and regulatory frameworks that INGOs must adhere to while conducting their operations in the country.
- Contract Drafting and Review: The firm can provide expertise in drafting and reviewing contracts and agreements that INGOs may enter into with local partners, vendors, or service providers. Ensuring that these contracts align with Pakistani laws and protect the interests of the INGO is crucial for smooth and legally sound operations.
- Intellectual Property Protection: Josh and Mak International can advise INGOs on intellectual property matters, including trademark registration and protection. This is essential for safeguarding the organization’s brand identity and preventing unauthorized use of its name and logo.
- Employment Dispute Resolution: In the event of employment disputes, the firm can provide legal representation and assistance to INGOs. This includes handling labor-related disputes, such as wrongful termination claims or labor contract disputes, and representing the organization’s interests before relevant authorities or labor courts.
- Data Protection and Privacy Compliance: Josh and Mak International can help INGOs understand and comply with data protection and privacy laws in Pakistan. This includes ensuring that the organization’s data collection, storage, and handling practices align with local regulations and protect the rights of individuals.
- Government Liaison and Advocacy: The firm can act as a liaison between the INGO and relevant government authorities, facilitating communication and addressing any legal or administrative issues that may arise. They can also advocate on behalf of the INGO with the government for favorable policies or changes that benefit the organization’s mission and objectives.
- Dispute Resolution and Litigation: If any legal disputes or litigation arise during the course of the INGO’s operations, Josh and Mak International can provide legal representation and counsel to protect the organization’s interests and rights.
- Training and Workshops: The firm can conduct training sessions and workshops for INGO staff and management to educate them about relevant legal matters, compliance requirements, and best practices for operating within Pakistan’s legal framework.
By offering these comprehensive legal services, Josh and Mak International can ensure that International NGOs operating in Pakistan have the necessary legal support and guidance to navigate the complex legal landscape and carry out their charitable and welfare activities effectively and in compliance with the law.
Advisory from the Ministry of Interior in 2015 NGO Policy
The Government of Pakistan acknowledges the significant role and contributions of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in supporting the country’s socio-economic policies and programs. In 2015, the Government implemented a policy framework to streamline and facilitate the operations of INGOs in Pakistan. As per this framework, all INGOs already operating in Pakistan or seeking to operate in the country are required to register with the Ministry of Interior by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).All INGOs were asked to register within 10 days of the announcement in 2015.Additionally, all INGOs were directed to conduct their annual financial audits through any of the approved audit firms falling under Category (A) & (B), as listed on the official website of the State Bank of Pakistan. The respective INGOs will be responsible for bearing the costs associated with the audit.
The Government of Pakistan emphasizes the importance of adhering to these requirements to ensure transparency, accountability, and effective coordination between INGOs and the government. By complying with the registration process and conducting annual financial audits, INGOs can continue to contribute positively to the country’s development endeavors. This advisory serves as an official notification, and all INGOs entering Pakistan are legally required now to fulfill the registration and audit obligations mentioned above to avoid any disruption in their operations within Pakistan.
(End of Advisory)
Legal Alert (2022):
MINISTRY OF INTERIOR: MECHANISM FOR INGOs TO WORK FOR RELIEF ACTIVITIES IN AFGHANISTAN
The Ministry of Interior hereby announces the mechanism for International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) to conduct relief activities in Afghanistan. This framework outlines the procedures for already registered INGOs and new INGOs seeking to provide humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. The objective is to ensure efficient and transparent procedures for the delivery of relief and assistance while adhering to applicable laws and regulations.
PROCEDURE FOR ALREADY REGISTERED INGOS:
i. A registered INGO shall submit an application to the Ministry of Interior with a clear scope of the proposed humanitarian assistance activities in Afghanistan.
ii. A Special Committee shall scrutinize and approve the requested application within 10 days of submission.
iii. Approved projects for Pakistan must not have their funds diverted. The new projects or activities for Afghanistan shall be funded separately, and separate books of accounts shall be maintained.
iv. Authorized banking and legal channels must be used for the transfer of funds and items.
v. The INGO shall provide details of the assistance consignment to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), (Collector Customs, Peshawar Collector Customs, Quetta) 48 hours before movement for appropriate confirmation and clearance by custom authorities.
vi. The process shall be subject to audit as per policy.
vii. The mechanism shall initially be applicable for 6 months and may be extended based on the evolving situation.
viii. Any new appointment or extension for Afghan assistance activities shall require fresh formal approval.
ix. The INGO shall indicate the number of members for whom visas are requested for humanitarian assistance activities.
x. Other terms and conditions of the existing policy shall remain applicable.
PROCEDURE FOR NEW INGOS:
i. New INGOs shall submit an application as per the INGO Policy 2015, along with required documents, including a letter from the concerned embassy verifying credentials, proof of registration in the country of origin, funding source letter, proof of local/office residence with complete address within 30 days of application submission, detail of designated representatives and staff, and an undertaking.
ii. The Special Committee shall scrutinize and approve the requested application for humanitarian assistance activities within 3 weeks (2 weeks for clearance and 1 week for processing).
iii. Authorized banking and legal channels must be used for the transfer of funds and items.
iv. The INGO shall provide details of the assistance consignment to Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), (Collector Customs, Peshawar Collector Customs, Quetta) 48 hours before movement for appropriate confirmation and clearance by custom authorities.
v. The process shall be subject to audit as per policy.
vi. The mechanism shall initially be applicable for 6 months and may be extended based on the evolving situation.
vii. Any new appointment or extension for Afghan assistance activities shall require fresh formal approval.
viii. The INGO shall indicate the number of members for whom visas are requested for humanitarian assistance activities.
ix. Other terms and conditions of the existing policy shall remain applicable.
Visas for INGOs/international organizations staff wanting to work for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan:
i. INGO entry visas for staff wanting to work for humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan may be issued by the Ministry of Interior without security clearance.
ii. This facility may initially be extended for a period of six months from the date of issuance of notification in this regard.
iii. Extension in visas will be made as per existing policy after security clearance.
The Ministry of Interior emphasizes that all INGOs must comply with the outlined procedures and guidelines to ensure smooth and effective delivery of humanitarian assistance in Afghanistan. Any deviations or non-compliance with the policy may result in appropriate actions taken by the authorities.
For further inquiries or clarifications, contact the Ministry of Interior’s designated department responsible for INGO registration and relief activities in Afghanistan.
Checklist for INGO Registration with the Ministry of Interior as per 2015 NGO Policy
To facilitate the registration process of International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) with the Ministry of Interior, the following documents are required. Please ensure that all the documents mentioned below are submitted along with the application:
- Acknowledgement of EAD (Economic Affairs Division): A confirmation from the Economic Affairs Division that the Annual Plan of Action has been submitted.
- Letter from the Concerned Embassy: A letter issued by the concerned Embassy verifying the credentials of the INGO.
- Proof of Registration in the Country of Origin: Documentation proving the INGO’s legal registration in its country of origin.
- Detailed Annual Budget: An annual budget covering both Administrative and Development components of the INGO’s operations.
- Approval from Commissioner Inland Revenue: Approval from the relevant Commissioner Inland Revenue under section 2 (36) of the Income Tax Ordinance, 2001.
- Tax Returns: Copies of the INGO’s tax returns for the last three years (applicable for Renewal of registration).
- Annual Reports: Annual reports of the INGO for the past three years.
- Financial Statements: Financial statements of the INGO for the past three years.
- Funding Guarantee Letter: A letter containing donor commitment to fund the INGO’s activities.
- Proof of Local Residence: Documentation showing the local residence of the INGO, such as a lease agreement, complete address, telephone numbers, and a list of local contacts in Pakistan (applicable for Renewal of registration).
- Power of Attorney: A power of attorney issued by the Head Office, authorizing its designated representative to apply for registration in Pakistan.
- Application Letter: A formal application letter addressed to the Secretary Interior, requesting registration as an INGO.
- Memorandum of Understanding (MOU): The MOU form, available on the Ministry of Interior website, duly filled-in.
- Staff Details: Details of the staff associated with the INGO.
- Declaration: A declaration affirming the authenticity and accuracy of all provided information.
Please note that all the listed documents are mandatory and should be uploaded during the registration process.
Ministry of Interior, Government of Pakistan INGO Registration Form (Color Coding: Red indicates recommendations by ISI, Green indicates recommendations by IB) (End of Checklist)
THE GOVERNMENT OF ISLAMIC REPUBLIC OF PAKISTAN
[INGO (International NGO]
This Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) is made and entered into by and between the Government of Pakistan through the Interior Division, (hereinafter referred to as “the Government”) and ………………………(hereinafter referred to as “the Organization”), a not-for-profit organization registered in(country name) at (address)______________________ and Local Office at (address)___________________________________________
Whereas the Organization desires to undertake work for the socio-economic development in Pakistan in the field of vocational education and training, health, poverty alleviation, culture, environmental protection, natural disaster reduction and management, science and technology, sports and other areas approved by the Government 1)________________________
2) ________________________, and located in (districts)___________, and for this purpose has submitted an Online application for registration accompanied by requisite documentary information;
Now, the Government is pleased to allow the organization to carry out its work on the following conditions:-
- This MOU shall be governed by the Constitution, laws, rules, regulations and policies of the Government of Pakistan.
- The Government may:
- Allow (Organization) to receive foreign contributions including funds, materials and services, emanating from declared sources, through legal channels, subject to reporting requirements.
- Allow (Organization) to open, maintain and operate local bank accounts for the execution of its work.
Provided that for opening and operating foreign currency accounts, the (Organization) shall seek permission of the State Bank of Pakistan, under the applicable law and rules;
- Allow (Organization) to maintain its head office at……… and to open other offices, if required, with prior written approval of the Government, subject to the concurrence of the Provincial Government / local government and compliance with applicable law / rules.
- Import / Tax Regulations :The Organization may avail 100% tax credit subject to the provisions of the Section 100C and approval of the Commissioner Inland Revenue concerned, under Section 2(36) of the Income Tax Ordinance 2001.
- The organization may import goods free from payment of advance income tax, for exclusive consumption by it or for use in the approved programs, project and activities, subject to the provisions of clause (56) of Part IV of Second Schedule to the Income Tax Ordinance 2001, with prior written approval of the Federal Board of Revenue (concerned Commissioner Inland Revenue). For exemption from payment of custom duty and sales tax, the Organization may import goods for its projects under heading 9903 of Pakistan Customs Tariff and Serial No. 46 of 6th Schedule to the Sales Tax Act, 1990.
Obligations of the Organization
The Organization shall:-
- Use funds, materials and services received by it as foreign contribution or foreign economic assistance from declared sources, through legal channels, for its specified work, and provide to the Government every six months complete information regarding flow of such funds, materials and services and when required by the Government in the prescribed format.
- Obtain prior concurrence of the Government for any additional funding or different source of funding other than that specified by the Organization.
- Appoint and employ a representative and other senior management personnel as appropriate, who will manage the work and supervise the staff on behalf of the Organization and liaise with the Government, and the Provincial / local Governments.
- Employ foreign nationals against not more than 10% of the total staff positions, and give preference to Pakistan nationals for key positions. The organization shall employ foreign national(s) to work in Pakistan subject to prior clearance by Ministry of Interior.
- Ensure that every expatriate has obtained an INGO visa prior to his / her entry into Pakistan as required under existing rules / regulations of Pakistan. The Organization shall not employ expatriates who are in the country on any other visa.
- Obtain prior written permission from the Government for visits to prohibited areas by expatriate personnel. Restricted and prohibited areas are out of bound for the operations of the organization.
- Ensure that all expatriate staff are informed that while they are in Pakistan, they shall be subject to (a) the laws and regulations of Pakistan, and (b) respect religious injunctions and cultural norms in Pakistan.
- Provide lists of its foreign and locally hired staff to the Government at the time of registration and on a six monthly basis thereafter in the prescribed format.
- Make payment above Rs.20, 000/- (Twenty Thousand) in Pakistan through banking channels. Retain also complete details of payments below Rs. 20,000/- for audit purposes.
- Ensure that all staff (foreign and local) working in Pakistan shall pay applicable taxes.
- Ensure withholding of tax, wherever applicable, and deposit of the same in Government treasury.
- Ensure that the administrative expenses do not exceed 30% of the project cost
- Ensure filing of Income Tax Return and withholding statements.
- Submit to the Government every six months and when required, written reports covering its activities and progress on the projects, funds received from abroad and their expenditure in Pakistan.
- Submit, on yearly basis, independent or third party evaluation including quantitative and qualitative assessment and impact of its work to the Government, Provincial Government and local government. Monitoring includes verification of developmental activities by district level committees.
- Prepare its annual financial statements and annual audit done from a panel of Auditors approved by the INGO Committee.
- Ensure that its entire work in Pakistan is undertaken in accordance with the Constitution, laws, rules, regulations and policies of Government of Pakistan.
- Provide to the INGO Committee its Annual Action Plan as well as Annual Progress Reports in the first month of every calendar year.
- Inform respective Provincial Governments and concerned local governments / district authorities regarding its programs / projects in their area and obtain their approval / permission / NOC for carrying out permissible activities.
- Provide access to premises, documentation, equipment and data relating to the organization and its local partners activities in Pakistan.
The Organization shall not:-
4.21 Undertake programs, projects and activities in contravention of the Constitution, laws, rules, regulations and policies of the Government of Pakistan.
4.22. Establish headquarter and field offices, open bank accounts, and hire staff prior to approval of registration in Pakistan.
4.23. Raise funds and/or receive donations locally, unless specifically authorized.
4.24. Seek change in visa category.
- Engage in money laundering, terrorist financing, weapon smuggling, anti-state activities and maintaining links with proscribed organizations.
- Take part or assist in any kind of political activity; conduct research or survey unrelated to their approved areas of work, unless sanctioned by the Government; carry out missionary work in Pakistan or any other unauthorized or prohibited activities.
- Provide, directly or indirectly, without approval of the Government, any assistance (monetary and / or material) to any local / international non-governmental organization.
- Transfer or rent / lease out its moveable and immoveable assets or allow their use for purposes other than those specified and agreed upon between the Parties.
- Indulge in distribution of any material or publication, via print, online, electronic or any other means causing or likely to cause or negatively affect social, cultural and religious ethos and sentiments.
- Share any data generated through its programs, projects and activities in Pakistan with any third party, inside Pakistan or abroad without prior written consent of Government.
- Amendments to and Termination of MOU
5.1. The Government reserves the right to amend or terminate this MoU at any time and cancel registration of the organization in case of non-compliance with any of the provision of this MoU.
5.2 The Government further reserves the right to terminate this MOU or cancel the registration of the Organization if it;
- Is found to be working in a geographical area other than the areas authorized;
- Is found engaged in or breach of security or participate in any act inconsistent with Pakistan’s national interests, sovereignty, territorial integrity, culture, norms and religious sentiments of the people or contrary to Pakistan’s policies;
- Provides false, incomplete or misleading information furnished to the Government.
- Does not undertake any reasonable activity for a period of six months.
- Has ceased to exist.
5.3 Violations of any provision of this MoU will be dealt with in accordance with the laws, rules, regulations and policies of the Government.
- In case of termination of this MOU, the registration of the Organization will stand cancelled and it shall cease all its activities forthwith.
- Termination of this MoU or cancellation of registration shall not be admissible in any court of law. Moreover, the organization if it wishes to, may file a review / appeal in case of termination / rejection / cancellation of its registration. The decision of the Special Ministerial Committee shall be final.
- The Organization may file a written request for cancelation of its registration and closing of its activities with 3 months prior notice to the Government for its approval and clearance in accordance with the laid down procedure.
- Entry into Force and Duration of MOU
7.1 This MOU shall supersede all previous agreements and MOUs, if any, executed by the Organization with the Government of Pakistan.
7.2 Any additional framework of operations entered into at the Provincial or district levels shall not derogate from the provisions of this MoU. In case of any conflict the provisions of this MoU shall prevail.
7.3 Renewal of this MoU shall be subject to verification of projects, annual plans of action, annual reports and audited accounts including third party evaluation and other requisite information relevant to this MoU, submitted by the organizations to the INGO Committee.
7.4 This MOU shall enter into force on the date of signatures and shall remain valid for 01 year (s).
In witness whereof, the undersigned representatives duly authorized by the Government and the Organization, have signed this Memorandum of Understanding.
Done at Islamabad, on this…………day of……………..… 20 , in English language in two originals, the signatories to retain a copy each.