Politics

Donor Money Under The Spotlight

This means that any company that’s limited by a guarantee, but is set for the purposes of charity, must disclose their accounts annually.
01 Sep 2020 11:42
Donor Money Under The Spotlight
Judge and documents on office desk Legislation

Parliament will debate on amending the Companies Act on Thursday. The amendment would get companies, which have received donations and funds from donor agencies, to publish their audited accounts.

This means that any company that’s limited by a guarantee, but is set for the purposes of charity, must disclose their accounts annually.

This will be done through the Companies Act (Amendment) Bill 2020, which was among the seven motions moved by the Minister for Economy and Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum in Parliament yesterday.

The Act and the Amendment

The 2013 amendment to the Charitable Trusts Act of 1945, made it mandatory for charitable organisations to make their annual reports public. Unfortunately, the Registrar of Titles has not necessarily been very vigilant in enforcing that particular aspect of the law.

In the amendment, a new section will be included after Section 388, requiring charitable companies to prepare financial statements for each applicable financial year.

And, once passed, part of the amendment also states that those which do not comply, will be named and shamed so that donor agencies know which agencies are non-compliant with the country’s transparency laws.

The Registrar may publish and make publicly available any information in relation to the non-compliance of a charitable trust, including the names of the trustees and board members of the charitable trust, if the charitable trust fails to comply.

Other bills to be debated

Other bills that will be debated include; the amendment to the Television Act of 1992 to provide mandatory licensing of online streaming services where such services broadcast live sporting events on a pay-per-view basis.

The amendment intends to provide a necessary safeguard for sports organisers, by ensuring that people who record such events in order to provide viewership for commercial gain will be required to formalise their activities.

The Pharmacy Profession (Amendment) Bill 2020 will amend sections 45 and 45A of the 2011 Pharmacy Profession Act to ensure all authorisations issued to operate a pharmacy is issued for a period of 12 months subject to annual review.

Currently, there is no authorisation period to own or have a proprietary interest in pharmacy businesses leaving interpretation to be open to no expiry date unless specified.

Also, under section 45A of the Act there is no provision which provides for the revocation of an authorisation for a private hospital to operate a pharmacy. The amendment would give the minister the power to revoke any authorisation for breach of conditions to operate.

MP’s will also debate an amendment to the 2003 Immigration Act.

Section 68 will be changed to increase the maximum penalties from $2000 and two years of jail time to $20,000 and five years.

This would allow for penalties which adequately reflect the severity of immigration-related offences.

An increase is also being sought in the penalty for refusing or failing to answer a question during interrogation, providing false or misleading answers to questions, providing false or misleading documents when requested for or not providing documents in a reasonable time.

Furthermore, the offence of entering Fiji without lawful authority will also be increased from $200 to $2000.

It also removes the requirement that permits must only be issued for three years at first instance.

This will allow for permits to be issued with longer terms to provide greater assurance to permit holders.

Citizenship of Fiji (Amendment) Bill 2020

The amendment will require those who apply for Fijian citizenship on the basis of marriage to a Fijian citizen to be lawfully present in Fiji for three years under a permanent residence permit.

For grant of citizenship by naturalisation currently, applicants only need to be lawfully present in Fiji for five out of the 10 years prior to lodging an application for naturalisation.

The Bill will introduce a new set of requirements which will require the applicant to be the holder of a five permanent residence permit at the time of lodgement and to have been lawfully present in Fiji for 10 out of the 15 years prior to lodgement.

The naturalisation application will also have to be made to the minister at least three months prior to the expiration of their permanent residence permit. Furthermore, when determining whether an applicant for citizenship has been lawfully present in Fiji for a given period, the minister will not consider the period during which the applicant was present in Fiji on a special purpose permit or co-extensive residence permit issued in relation to a student permit.

Passports Amendment Bill 2020

There are some issues that need to be addressed, such as not only passports being issued, but the Department also issuing travel documents.

Penalties are also being reviewed and shift the responsibility to the Permanent Secretary of Immigration. A number of consequential amendments would be made where Director of Immigration was initially stated, it would be replaced by PS Immigration.

The name to also change from Department of Immigration to Fijian Immigration Department.

It also shifts statutory powers and responsibilities of the Director of Immigration to the Permanent Secretary responsible for immigration.

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

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