Govt hopes to pass NPO bill by month’s end
Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday that he hopes to have the Non-Profit Organisations Bill, 2018 (NPO) passed by the end of July.
Passage of the NPO bill was delayed in the Senate last year following concerns from members of the clergy and Civil Society Bahamas (CSB).
At the time, Bethel said further consultation was needed.
He told The Nassau Guardian yesterday that a new draft of the bill has been circulated to the Bahamas Christian Council and CSB.
“The draft that I’m sending around involves Senate amendments embedded into the bill so that they can see the whole framework in one document,” he said.
“I’m now waiting for their final reviews. Certainly civil society has a very positive review about it…
“So the idea is to just get the views of the religious community and then move as quickly as we can before the end of July to move the amendments in the Senate, have them approved in the House and then have the bill brought into force by the end of July. That’s the target.”
The government has until September 2019 to pass the NPO bill, Bethel has said.
CSB Secretary Mark Palmer said yesterday that the new bill has “significant changes”.
“I think there have been some significant changes on the administrative side [and] on the registering side,” Palmer said when called for comment.
“There was a lot of information that was required initially and it’s significantly less problematic now for a non-profit to register.”
He continued, “We want a bill that not just regulates a sector but one that also stimulates it, and the bill as it was in the original iteration was really just prescriptive. We want something that’s able to stimulate the sector and move it forward.”
Palmer said that CSB is almost complete with its review of the new bill and is now gathering input from the Family Islands.
“We are meeting shortly, just to review all of the information, and then we will be arranging to meet with the attorney general,” he said.
As noted, the NPO bill was tabled in the House of Assembly last November, along with four other bills.
In its original form, the bill, which seeks to regulate non-profit organizations, mandated that each organization register with the government and provide, among other things, evidence of its gross annual income, the identities of its members and evidence of know your customer due diligence.
The bill also mandated that each non-profit report donations of $50,000 or more as well as its 10 largest donations.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications