Charities law faces rewrite

| 03/09/2010

(CNS): Despite previous plans to bring the Charities Bill to the Legislative Assembly at the next sitting, a statement from the Attorney General’s Office on Thursday evening revealed that the draft bill will be going back to the drawing board as a result of concerns from charities and the public. Sam Bulgin acknowledged that more needed to be done by government to clarify the law to regulate charities, as mandated by Cayman’s international obligations. He said the bill would be revisited for further consultation. The bill would have seen charities charged fees, be required to submit formal accounts and reveal anonymous donors before they could be registered and raise funds.

“It is not unreasonable for members of the public to harbour some anxiety in circumstances where, as is clearly the case here, there is a lack of clarity in what the law is seeking to achieve. It is incumbent on government to address the numerous concerns before attempting to move ahead with the Charities Bill,” Bulgin stated.
 
He said the bill would be revisited and further consultations conducted with a view to reaching a sensible compromise going forward. “The government has no intention to destroy the enormous good will relating to charitable assistance. Indeed, the government continues tobe very appreciative of the efforts of these charitable organisations and their donors,” the attorney general added.
 
In August CNS reported on the proposals contained in the draft bill, which would have introduced formal regulation of all local charities forcing them to pay fees and submit annual accounts before they could legally raise funds. The report received a mixed response from CNS readers, with many concerned that the fees and red-tape would see charities close down, while others pointed to the need for some form of regulation.
 
Many pointed out that it is not a priority, and one local auditor stated that the bill needed to be revised before it could be taken seriously. “The idea of subjecting members of service clubs to due diligence procedures is over the top as is the idea of annual audits. Audit firms do a substantial amount of pro bono work as it is and no one wishes to see monies raised for charities being spent on audit fees or indeed fees paid to government,” said Chris Johnson. “This Bill cannot be a priority bearing in mind the problems that require resolving as a matter of urgency such as Mount Trashmore.”
 
This weekend the Observer on Sunday reported that the charity sector and the wider community had some serious concerns about the impact the bill would have on their bottom line, with the need to hire staff to formalise their accounting processes and the possibility of scaring anonymous donors away with the need to reveal where all of their contributions came from.
 
It also reported major concerns from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, which has reported concerns to government on several occasions about the impact of the bill on the private wealth and institutional use of charities in Cayman.
 
STEP said it had been decided that it would assist in drafting a revised Charities Bill as a discussion document, which was submitted to the Law Reform Commission.
 
“As the months passed, it was assumed that the technical requirements evidently necessary from the STEP redraft and the more general objections of the local charities had been sufficient to cause the idea of regulating charities in the manner of the first draft to have been abandoned,” the organization stated in the Observer. “The first that the private sector then hears, almost a year later, is that a Charities Bill, which nobody in the private sector has apparently seen, is about to be gazetted.”
 
STEP said the latest draft varies little from the original and warned of the potential impacts on the financial services industry, a point that likely prompted the government’s decision to scrap the proposed bill and start over.
 
While the goal is to regulate charities to protect donors and to ensure charities are not abused when it comes to money laundering or terrorist financing, there appear to be numerous unintended consequences in the current draft, which will now be rewritten.
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Comments (19)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I personally would be more comfortable being sure I was contributing to an organzation that is held accountable to someone for how they use the funds given to them.  I’m also frustrated by the many kids and teens knocking on my door for donations when I do not know if it is a legitmate cause.   Whether or not "regulation" needs to occur in the manner proposed in this bill, finding some way of helping the consumer identify legitimate charities is a positive step.  I know the U.S. not only requires charities to meet certain guidelines but also several independent groups within the US actually rate charities re effectiveness, overhead, etc.  This helps me give my money more freely and effectively.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Has, perhaps, common sense prevailed? Alleluia!

  3. Anonymous Realist says:

    You all need to learn more about agendas folks…..individuals, groups, governments and charities all have them do they not?

    KER CHING!!

  4. Anonymous says:

    do you all not realize that this Charities Bill would be law by now if the only elected representative in the LA who reads proposed laws Ezzard Miller  had not asked the premier to withdraw the bill because of his concerns. The bill was on the order paper and had actually been read a first time before Ezzard Intervened.

    All Charities should say a big thank you to Ezzard.

  5. Anonymous says:

    A Charities Law / Act is not uncommon- such law dates back to 1601 on the basis of determining legal tax exemption. In fact, its principle purpose is well-founded, albeit the CI version may not have been effectively or efficiently constructed for its intended purpose.

    In essence such a law should aim to enhance public confidence regarding the integrity of charities. However, with such a law, the question remains- who or what entity shall, independent of the Government, seek to ensure that regulation or charitable organizations is conducted with proportionality and fairness?

    See link for UK version-

    http://www.opsi.gov.uk/acts/acts1992/Ukpga_19920041_en_1.htm

     

  6. A Concerned Caymanian wants to know!!!! says:

    So here is my two cents

    " How can you be a non-profit Association but you have over 1 million dollars on a fixed deposit!!!! "

    Can some one explain how legal is that!!!

    • Anonymous says:

      I don’t see that they are inconsistent. Let’s say the million dollars were to be applied towards scholarships in the next academic year where you suggest that they park the money instead? Are you suggesting that they need to be broke to be a charity? Don’t you think that the Buill and Melinda Gates Foundation might be holding hundreds of millions of dollars on fixed deposit waiting for the right cause or opportunity? I think it more depends on what you have been doing as an organisation.

    • anonymous says:

      Are you the big mouth bank employee in  breach of  the bank patent confidentiality policies that protects the valued customer? It is  disgraceful and you are violating their privacy by sharing this kind of information with the public.One million dollars on fixed deposit !  You, or the person betraying the bank and customer should be fired! Not only are you in breach of trust as an employee but you are in breach of the trust of the valued bank ‘scustomer and the patent confidentiality bank policies that govern customer service and customer care.

      Then you wonder why certain of you can’t get hired?

      You talk way too much! And your long tongues are dangerous weapons that continue to destroy yourselves.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The government isn’t actually listening. They know they won’t get voted in again. Until new elections it’s just smash and grab

    • Anonymous says:

      I agree with you so much.  If I knew who you are, I would hug you for your thought.  However, further to your comment regarding they are not going to be re-elected;  Come campaign time, watch the new appliances, the free home repairs and anything else some prospective voters may want or need for themselves.  I feel it is time for Caymanians to stop selling their consciences so cheaply during election time.  Tell the government to be prepared to explain their charitable donations, when they continue with the illegal practice of  buying votes. The  world is watching the Cayman Islands and wondering when the United Kingdom is going to treat us like they did Turks and Caicos.  Maybe our premier and deputy premier can go join with the former premier of that Crown Colony. 

      • anonymous says:

        What happened to the law against bribing then!

        Ezzard we want a law that prohibits and outlaws politicians and candidates giving away refrigerators, stoves, microwaves, house tops, and  free money in exchange for a vote.  Its a crime!

        It should be banned. 

        Come on Ezzard draft it put it on the table now!

  8. Anonymous says:

    HOORAY ! well done to all of those who stood up to this ill thought through Bill. Hopefully , if it does rear its head again it will be fair and enforceable!

  9. Anonymous says:

    This Bill is beyond disgusting! How about we draft a Bill to charge fees to the government for each and every time that they waste time and resources on some bs law which really doesn’t needto be addressed at all!!!

     

    This makes me so beyond angry… CHARITIES which are trying to HELP are being charged fees?!? FOR WHAT???? the govt has to go! You disgust me!!!

  10. brainy braccer says:

    the whole thing reeks of bad governance and incompetence…..

  11. THAT IS SHAMEFUL!

    We don’t want a community TAX for those who are helpless, unemployed, the elderly, social services, and educating the youth… BUT…

    WE ARE SO APT TO "REGULATE" AND ENFORCE LAWS AGAINST PEOPLE and GROUPS WHO WANT TO VOLUNTARILY DONATE or CONTRIBUTE TO A GOOD CAUSE!

    Why is Government making it so HARD to help people???

  12. Anonymous says:

    The government itself is incapable of producing auditable financial statements. There are no sanctions or concequences for civil servants who are responsible. In otherwords, the law is not enforced.

    So why is money being wasted on regulating the charities when the law will probably never be enforced?

    • Anonymous says:

      ….. and why can government even ask that Financials Statements are procuded if they themselves can’t produce it………….it’s like asking the child not to play with fire but the parents sits down and plays with fire every day!

  13. Anonymous says:

    We do not need Government regulation of charities

    All we need is a certified annual statement from each charity.

    No more than a sheet of paper showing the total
    sum received by the charity, the sum used for
    expenses, and the identity and amount paid to each beneficiary.

    This is all the information a donator needs to choose a charity.

    And the public exposure automatically puts the charities in competition.
    Presto, they all become self regulating.

    Do self regulating organizations need a regulator?
    Of course not.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Sam who? Sam I am, I do not like green eggs and ham. My soul weeps over the appointments we have made.