Islamabad - The fate of 279 non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in Pakistan is at stake, as they have failed to renew their licences as directed by the government under the National Action Plan (NAP), it has learnt on Wednesday.

A large number of NGOs did not apply for renewal of licences even after extending the deadline for a period of over fortnight. The government has set this condition necessary after a long debate on foreign funding for NGOs for dubious activities, especially after Peshawar carnage, which killed more than 140 people including students and teachers.

However, a large number of NGOs had not bothered to fulfill the obligation to renew their licences. “Out of total 643 NGOs registered under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance 1984, 423 NGOs were required to renew their licences. Out of which 144 has so far applied for the renewal of licences. During scrutiny of data, SECP found 136 as dormant and against which legal proceedings have already been initiated,” according to the information gathered by The Nation from Securities Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP). “There are 19 other NGOs, which have applied for the extension in time for filing application. The commission will also consider request of 19 companies that have requested for extension in time,” SECP sources further stated. The government earlier warned to cancel the contracts of NGOs failing to renew their licences.

Sources said that the government also faced immense pressure before introducing this condition to NGOs working in Pakistan. The ministry of interior held a number of meetings with other concerned departments to set this condition for NGOs keeping in view the national interest, they added.

As per SECP circular number 29/2008, dated December 24, 2008, all Section 42 companies were issued conditional licences for a period of five years, upon completion of which the not-for-profit companies are required to apply for renewal of their licences as per issued guidelines.

In a recent meeting of the subcommittee constituted under the Prime Minister Implementation Committee for National Plan of Action on Counterterrorism, it was decided to revalidate/renew the licences issued by the SECP under section 42 of the ordinance to confirm that such entities are working within the parameters of law and are not engaged or linked with any terrorist financing activities. It was observed in the meeting of the subcommittee that proper legislation was required to regulate and monitor INGOs working in Pakistan.

Following the decision of the subcommittee, the SECP in December 2014 had directed all the non-profit associations, which obtained their licences before January 1, 2010 for renewal of licence within 30 days of the date of the circular failing to which necessary legal action shall be initiated, including revocation of the licence.

However, a large number of NGOs did not follow the government’s directions by not applying for renewal of their licences by January 30 2015, which compelled the SECP to extend the deadline to February 16. However, even after ending the deadline, only 144 NGOs out of 423 has so far applied for the renewal of licences.

The SECP registers non-profit organisations under Section 42 of the Companies Ordinance and grants them licence for a definite period of five years.

The NGOs were required to submit an application for the renewal of their licence along with copies of annual audited accounts, complete profiles of chief executive and directors, statement of work, details of the amount of donations and grants received, statement from chartered accountant that funds/grants/donations were received through banking channels, and details of donors.