New Organization Registration Law Enacted
On 28 October 2022, the State Administration Council (“SAC”) enacted the Organization Registration Law (“ORL”) via Notification No.46/2022 by the power vested in Section 419 of the Constitution of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar.
The ORL will repeal the former Association Registration Law 2014 (“ARL”) enacted through the Pyidaungsu Hluttaw Law No. 31/2014 that was subsequently implemented by the Rules Relating to the Registration of Associations on 5 June 2015. The ARL was governed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MOHA“), which had been issuing Registration Certificates (“RC”).
All international non-governmental organizations (“INGOs”), NGOs, and local organizations have signed MOUs with the relevant government departments for their business operations. However, organizations recently formed under the ARL have faced issues when trying to renew their Registration Certificate from the MOHA, which has led to problems such as being unable to secure MOUs and RCs.
The new ORL introduces a new regime applicable to organizations, including more comprehensive provisions regarding registration mechanisms, prohibitions, and penalties. In this alert, DFDL draws attention to some salient features of the 2022 ORL.
Objectives of ORL
Under the ORL, the MOHA will issue RCs after being reviewed by the relevant Registration Board (“RB”) for Internal Organizations (“IO”) as well as INGOs. According to the ORL, an IO is an NGO registered under this law and formed with five or more citizens to carry out social tasks without taking any benefit from the State or citizens.
An INGO is an organization officially formed in a foreign country that began operations in Myanmar with at least 40 percent of Myanmar citizens on its executive committee, which was registered with the relevant RB under the ORL to conduct social work without taking benefit from the country.
The objectives of the ORL are to legally form and operate organizations, protect the organizations’ registration, get support from relevant government authorities, and create support networks in cases when the organizations are responsible for operations for the benefit of the country and citizens.
To supervise and operate the registration processes, boards will be established in various areas and jurisdictions, including the Union Registration Board, Region and State Registration Board, Union Territory Registration Board, Self-Administered Division or Self-Administered Zone Registration Board, District Registration Board, and Township Registration Board.
The responsibilities of these registration boards are to verify registration and re-registration of the relevant organizations and decide whether to allow or decline registration. The boards will also confirm that the organizations are operating legally, collaborating with the relevant government authorities, and making sure organizations are not directly or indirectly engaging in money laundering and terrorism financing.
The registration boards will work with the relevant government authorities to verify annual financial statements, financial matters, and property owned by organizations.
In the process of registering internal organizations, the chairman, secretary, executive committee member, or an organization member assigned the duties with a power of attorney must submit the following:
- Name of the organization;
- Name of the chairman and secretary;
- Location and contact address of an organization;
- The formation date of the organization;
- Purposes and processes;
- Recommendation by the government department related to such purposes and processes;
- Number of executive committee members;
- Number of organization members;
- Organization’s cash and assets;
- Social activities that have been performed;
- Articles of association;
- Application date; and
- Agreement to abide by the provisions prescribed in the existing laws.
After submitting all requirements, the concerned registration boards will decide whether to allow the registration to proceed. Under the new ORL, they will issue a temporary registration certificate to an organization that seeks approval for registration within 21 days (previously within seven days) from the date the application form is submitted, excluding the gazette holidays.
The concerned registration boards will issue the registration certificate within 30 days from the date they decide to grant the registration. If the registration boards decline the application, internal organizations are not allowed to register with any other registration board. Internal organizations that have already acquired registration certificates must not register with other registration boards.
The 2022 ORL prescribes registration fees ranging from MMK 30,000 to MMK 300,000 (USD 14 to USD 142), subject to the registration boards with which an organization registers. Internal organizations that have acquired registration certificates must apply for the renewal of their registration under the prescribed rules to the relevant registration board 90 days before the expiration of the registration certificate.
Internal organizations applying for registration renewal must carry out the same application procedures for the registration certificate as they did the first time.
Registration of INGOs
In the process of registering INGOs, the chief executive or a member or representative of the organization assigned with power of attorney shall submit the following:
- Name of the organization;
- A brief history of the organization;
- Name of the chief of the organization in the country where the organization is based;
- Name of the responsible person of the organization located in Myanmar;
- Location and contact address of the organization;
- Home country of an organization;
- Supporting documents of the relevant government authorities;
- Constitution of the organization in the residing country;
- Draft memorandum of understanding;
- Name of the responsible person of the branch office of the organization in Myanmar;
- Number of members of the executive team (Myanmar citizens and foreign citizens);
- Number of members;
- Contact address of the organization’s branch office opening in Myanmar;
- Social work to be carried out in the Union and its financial resources;
- Recommendation from the relevant government department related to the purposes and processes of the organization;
- Recommendation from the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations and Ministry of Immigration and Population;
- Letter of request for feedback from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs;
- Approval from the regional governing board for the territory where operations will be conducted;
- Name of the responsible person in the branch offices in Myanmar;
- Number of branch offices and their contact addresses established in the Union;
- Submission date; and
- Undertaking to abide by the provisions prescribed in the existing laws.
After submitting the requirements, the above-mentioned registration boards will decide whether to allow registration or not. If the INGO directly or indirectly disturbs the peace and tranquility of the Union of Myanmar, the INGO will be immediately terminated.
Organizations that Do Not Require Registration
The following organizations are not required to apply for registration:
- Organizations that pursue religious, political, and economic activities only;
- Political parties;
- Organization formed under any existing laws; and
- Committees or organizations formed by the government authorities.
Rights and Responsibilities
Organizations are entitled to support from governmental organizations, entities, and persons recognized by the Union of Myanmar for their lawful operations. They have the right to file a lawsuit, and they are eligible to own their trademarks and logos. They may also provide emergency relief in disaster-hit areas with approval from the government authorities.
Organizations are strictly prohibited from operating without a registration certificate, continuing to operate after the expiration of the registration certificate, or supporting terrorist organizations.
Organizations that violate the prohibitions prescribed in this Law will be liable to serve a term of imprisonment ranging from two years to five years or subject to a fine ranging from MMK 500,000 to MMK 5,000,000 (USD 237 to USD 2,374) or both.
The term of the registration certificate will be five years. Any organization formed under the ARL can continue to operate until the expiry date. After the expiry date, organizations shall continue the re-registration process under the ORL.
If unregistered organizations formed before the enforcement of the ORL wish to continue operations, they must apply for registration within 60 days from the date on which the ORL was enacted.
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