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Non-Governmental Organization Act (Chapter 315)

BELIZE
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS ACT
CHAPTER 315
REVISED EDITION 2000
SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000
This is a revised edition of the law, prepared by the Law Revision Commissioner
under the authority of the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize,
Revised Edition 1980 – 1990.
This edition contains a consolidation of the following laws-Page
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS3
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS ACT5
Amendments in force as at 31st December, 2000.

BELIZE
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS ACT
CHAPTER 315
REVISED EDITION 2000
SHOWING THE LAW AS AT 31ST DECEMBER, 2000
This is a revised edition of the law, prepared by the Law Revision Commissioner
under the authority of the Law Revision Act, Chapter 3 of the Laws of Belize,
Revised Edition 1980 – 1990.
This edition contains a consolidation of the following laws-Page
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS3
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS ACT5
Amendments in force as at 31st December, 2000.

THE SUBSTANTIVE LAWS OF BELIZE REVISED EDITION 2000
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No. 1 Power Lane,
Belmopan, by the authority of
the Government of Belize.
Non-Governmental Organisations[CAP. 315
[] 3
CHAPTER 315
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS
ARRANGEMENT OF SECTIONS
PA RT I
Preliminary
1. Short title.
2. Interpretation.
PA RT I I
Registration Requirements
3. Non-Governmental Organisations defined.
4. Non-Governmental Organisations which are not registered not to
enjoy benefits conferred under this Act.
5. The Registrar and Deputy Registrar.
6. Application for Registration.
7. Sustainable human development defined.
8. Registration.
9. Effect of registration.
10. Publication of names in the Gazette.

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[] PART III
Appointment of Staff, etc.
11. Appointment of staff.
PA RT I V
Administration
12. Board of Directors.
PA RT V
Financial Provisions
13. Exemption from income tax, business tax, property tax, and other
duties.
14. Commercial activities.
15. Accounts and reports.
16. Annual report.
17. Fiscal and administrative transparency.
18. Penalties.
PA RT V I
Networks and Associations
19. International Non-Governmental Organisations.

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20. Associations and Networks.
PART VII
Miscellaneous
21. Regulations.
22. Commencement.
________
CHAPTER 315
NON-GOVERNMENTAL ORGANISATIONS
1
PA RT 1
Preliminary
1. This Act may be cited as the Non-Governmental Organisations Act.
2. In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires:-
“auditor” means a person who examines and reports on financial statements or
accounts;
1 This Act had not yet come into force as of 31st December, 2000.Short title.
Interpretation.
26 of 2000.

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[] “Board of Directors” means the Board of Directors of a Non-Governmental
Organisation appointed pursuant to section 12 of this Act;
“By-law” means any By-laws made by a Non-Governmental Organisation for
its own internal regulation;
“financial year” means the period used by any Non-Governmental Organisation
registered pursuant to this Act to estimate its annual revenue and expenditure;
“Minister” means the Minister to whom the subject of civil society is assigned
by the Governor-General pursuant to section 41 of the Belize Constitution;
“Non-Governmental Organisation” has the meaning assigned to it in section 3
below;
“sustainable human development” has the meaning assigned to it in section 7
below;
“Registrar” means the Registrar appointed under section 5 of this Act;
“Register” means the Register of Non-Governmental Organisations registered
under this Act.
PA RT I I
Registration Requirements
3.-(1) A Non-Governmental Organisation is a legal entity formed as a company
limited by guarantee under the Companies Act whose aims, nature and objects,
direct or indirect, are consistent with the principles enshrined in the preamble
to the Belize Constitution and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
all those international and regional human rights treaties and instruments to
which Belize is a party, and are designed to contribute to sustainable human
development in Belize.
CAP. 250.
CAP. 4.CAP. 4.
Non-
Governmental
Organisations
defined.

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(2) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) above,but subject
to section 13(2) of the Belize Constitution, a Non-Governmental Organisation
shall also have the following attributes and characteristics:-
(a)it shall be independent of Government control in its operations
and management;
(b)its aims, objects and purposes shall be to achieve sustainable
human development on a voluntary, non-profit basis;
(c)its business and affairs shall be under the management and
control of a Board of Directors, elected to office for a period
and in a manner specified in its Articles of Association, and no
member of the Board of Directors or an officer or employee
of the Non-Governmental Organisation shall have any interest
in using the objects, aims and purposes of the Non-
Governmental Organisation for personal gain or profit; and
(d)its activities in and within Belize shall be consistent with the
principles and provisions of the Belize Constitution.
4.-(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, no Non-Governmental Organisation
shall enjoy any tax benefits provided under this Act unless such Non-
Governmental Organisation is registered under this Act.
(2) The Minister may, by Order published in the Gazette, specify the
period in which Non-Governmental Organisations already in existence and
operating prior to the commencement of this Act shall be required to register
under this Act.
5.-(1) The Minister may from time to time appoint a fit, suitably qualified proper
person to be Registrar of Non-Governmental Organisations:
CAP. 4.
Non-
Governmental
Organisations
which are not
registered not to
enjoy benefits
conferred under
this Act.
The Registrar
and Deputy
Registrar.CAP. 4.

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[] Provided that the Solicitor General shall act as the Registrar of Non-
Governmental Organisations until such time as the Minister appoints a Registrar
pursuant to subsection (1) above.
(2) The Registrar may have a Deputy Registrar and such other staff as
may enable the full and effectual discharge of his duties as provided under this
Act and any Regulations made thereunder.
6.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation desirous of being registered
under this Act shall submit to the Registrar, within three months of the
commencement of this Act, or within such other time as may be prescribed,
the documents and information referred to in subsection (2) below.
(2) In support of such application, the Non-Governmental Organisation
shall furnish the Registrar with the following documents together with its
application:-
(a)the Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Non-
Governmental Organisation, showing that it is a company
limited by guarantee;
(b)the name and address of the Non-Governmental Organisation;
(c)brief details of the aims, objects and purposes of the Non-
Governmental Organisation, especially those relating to
sustainable human development in Belize;
(d)the organisational structure of the Non-Governmental
Organisation (including without limitation details of its
membership and management) and how its Directors are
elected, their duties and powers and terms of office;
(e)the accounting and management procedures of the Non-
Governmental Organisation;
Application for
Registration.

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(f)the names, addresses and occupation of each member of the
Board of Directors of the Non-Governmental Organisation
for each year, where applicable;
(g)the types of programmes that the Non-Governmental
Organisation intends to carry out for that year;
(h)the maximum annual estimated revenues and grants of the Non-
Governmental Organisation and, for a Non-Governmental
Organisation with revenues of at least twenty-five thousand
dollars per annum, the audited accounts of the Non-
Governmental Organisation for the previous financial year, duly
audited by an independent auditor, and for a Non-
Governmental Organisation with annual revenues below
twenty-five thousand dollars per annum, the statement of
accounts for the Non-Governmental Organisation prepared
by its accountant or bookkeeper;
(i)the By-laws of the Non-Governmental Organisation.
(3) Where the aims, objectives and purposes of a Non-Governmental
Organisation require the Non-Governmental Organisation to possess particular
technical or professional qualifications or expertise, such Non-Governmental
Organisation shall be required, within two months after registration, to submit
to the Registrar satisfactory proof that its officers and/or employees are duly
registered or licensed and comply in all respects under the relevant law in Belize,
where the practice of such profession is regulated by a specific law in Belize.
(4) Where any locally incorporated Non-Governmental Organisation
registered under this Act holds foreign currency accounts with any bank or
financial institution outside Belize, it shall be required, within three months of
registration, to transfer such monies to Belize and to open and hold in respect
thereof a foreign currency account in its name in Belize, notwithstanding anything
to the contrary in the Exchange Control Regulations Act or any other law, and
such monies shall be exempt from any tax, duty or impost whatsoever levied by
CAP. 52.

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[] the Government.
7. For the purposes of sections 3 and 6 (2) above, the expression
“sustainable human development” shall be construed to include but not to be
limited to any of the following:-
(a)a programme of activities by a Non-Governmental
Organisation which promotes, protects, educates and
encourages respect of human rights generally and the
fundamental rights and freedoms enshrined in Chapter II of
the Belize Constitution in particular;
(b)a programme of activities which encourages, promotes,
protects and develops the educational system to meet the
basic needs of the Belizean society and economy;
(c)a programme of activities which educates the Belizean public
or any section thereof about the Belize Constitution and laws
and their constitutional and legal rights and obligations as
enshrined thereunder;
(d)a programme of activities that assists communities in general,
and certain marginalised groups like women and the youth in
particular, in the planning, implementation and successful
execution of community-based developmental projects;
(e)a programme of activities that promotes and encourages the
responsible conservation, protection and sustainable use of
Belize’s natural environment, resources, antiquities and
monuments;
(f)a programme of activities that promotes and encourages the
formation and sustainable growth of social and civil society
organisations, groups and societies concerned with the
constitutional and legal rights of workers, and the legal rights
Sustainable
human
development
defined.
CAP. 4.
CAP. 4.

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of fishermen, farmers, indigenous peoples, women, children,
youth, the elderly, the disabled, marginalised sections of the
society and other disadvantaged social groups;
(g)a programme of activities that promotes and encourages in
Belize the observance of primary and secondary health care
and sanitary standards and health education;
(h)a programme of activities that assists local, rural or urban
communities in engaging in income generating production
projects;
(i)a programme of activities that promotes, among Belize’s multi-
cultural citizens, patriotism and national consciousness as
Belizeans over and above identity at the ethnic level;
(j)a programme of activities that promotes, protects and
disseminates Belizean culture, or the culture of a specific cultural
or ethnic group thereof;
(k)a programme of activities that promotes the participation of
women in all spheres of national development, and that
promotes gender awareness issues and sensitivity;
(l)a programme of activities that aims to provide supervised
micro-credit schemes to community groups for the
implementation of income generating projects; or
(m)a program of activities that improves and maintains the well-
being of the people and the natural environment of Belize, and
that meets the needs of the present generation without
compromising the needs of future generations, as well as which
respects all human rights and observes the principles of equity,
cooperation and solidarity; and

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[] (n)any other programme of activities which promotes sustainable
human development.
8.-(1) The Registrar shall, within such time as shall be prescribed, if he is
satisfied after receipt of an application under section 6(1):-
(a)that the organisation making the application meets the
requirements of section 3 above;
(b)that the application complies with section 6 above;
(c)that the programme of activities of the organisation complies
with the requirements of section 7 above,
register the organisation as a Non-Governmental Organisation and issue to
that organisation a Certificate of Registration in the prescribed form, upon
payment of the prescribed fee.
(2) The Registrar may refuse to register a Non-Governmental Organisation
where, in the opinion of the Registrar:-
(a)the name of the Non-Governmental Organisation is similar
to the name of another Non-Governmental Organisation or
other organisation or entity as to be likely to mislead the public
as to its true identity;
(b)the name of the Non-Governmental Organisation is offensive
to good morals;
(c)the application for registration does not comply with the
requirements of this Act or any Regulations made there-
under.
(3) Where the Registrar refuses to register a Non-Governmental
Organisation under subsection (2)(c) above, he may direct the Non-
Registration.

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Governmental Organisation to resubmit, within such time as may be prescribed,
a new application complying with the requirements of this Act. If the Non-
Governmental Organisation complies with the Registrar’s direction within the
prescribed time, he shall register the Non-Governmental Organisation.
(4) Any Non-Governmental Organisation, or a member or officer thereof
aggrieved by the Registrar’s refusal to register a Non-Governmental Organisation
under subsection (2) above may appeal to the Supreme Court and the decision
of the Supreme Court thereon shall be final.
9.-(1) The Government shall designate a Ministry to coordinate the activities
of, and the relationship between, Non-Governmental Organisations and the
Government with a view to establishing procedures for consultation and other
related matters affecting sustainable human development in Belize:
Provided that until such time as the Governor-General assigns the subject
of “Non-Governmental Organisations” to a specific Ministry pursuant to section
41 of the Belize Constitution, the Ministry responsible for Human Development
shall perform the functions provided in subsection (1) above.
(2) The duties of the Ministry designated under subsection (1) above
shall include the following:-
(a)maintaining a directory of the addresses, telephone numbers,
and contact persons of every Non-Governmental Organisation
registered under this Act;
(b)providing assistance to organisations desirous of being
registered as Non-Governmental Organisations under this Act,
and producing guidelines explaining to such organisations, in a
language which the members thereof understand, the criteria
for and effects of, registration;
(c)providing technical and other assistance, if funds allow or where
possible, upon request or from time to time as occasion
Effect of
registration.
CAP. 4.

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[] demands, for the institutional strengthening of Non-
Governmental Organisations;
(d)identifying, in appropriate cases, suitably qualified and
experienced Non-Governmental Organisations to formulate,
evaluate, implement or manage relevant projects funded by
the Government or by local or foreign funding agencies.
10. In the month of June in each year, the Registrar shall cause to be
published in the Gazette a list of all the names of Non-Governmental
Organisations registered under this Act, a list of all Non-Governmental
Organisations which were registered the preceding year but not currently
registered, and a list of all organisations which applied for registration but
whose applications were refused.
PART III
Appointment of Staff, etc.
11.-(1) Unless provided otherwise in its Articles and Memorandum of
Association or in its By-Laws, the Board of Directors of a Non-Governmental
Organisation may appoint and employ, at such remuneration and subject to
such terms and conditions as it thinks fit, a suitably qualified, fit and proper
person to be the executive officer of the Non-Governmental Organisation.
(2) Unless otherwise provided in its Memorandum and Articles of
Association or in its By-Laws, the person appointed under subsection (1)
above may, with the approval of the Board of Directors, appoint and employ,
at such remuneration and subject to such conditions as the Board thinks fit,
such other officers, employees and agents as he considers necessary for the
proper performance of the Non-Governmental Organisation’s aims, objects
and purposes.
(3) The person appointed as executive officer of the Non-Governmental
Organisation pursuant to subsection (1) above shall, subject to the general
Publication of
names in the
Gazette.
Appointment of
staff.

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policy directions of the Board of Directors, be responsible for the day to day
management of the affairs of the Non-Governmental Organisation, including
the organisation of staff in accordance with the general terms and conditions of
service established by the Board of Directors.
PA RT I V
Administration
12.-(1) Each Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act shall,
subject to its Memorandum and Articles of Association and its By-Laws, have
a Board of Directors or other committee or governing body and such Board of
Directors, committee or governing body shall be the principal policy making
organ of the Non-Governmental Organisation.
(2) The composition of the Board of Directors, committee or governing
body referred to under subsection (1) above shall be as provided in the
Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Non-Governmental
Organisation or in its By-Laws.
(3) The Memorandum and Articles of Association of the Non-
Governmental Organisation, or its By-Laws, shall specify:-
(a)the manner of electing the Chairman of the Board of Directors,
committee or governing body of the Non-Governmental
Organisation;
(b)the period for which the Chairman shall be appointed;
(c)the period and place at which the Board, committee or
governing body shall meet to transact the business of the Non-
Governmental Organisation;
(d)the disqualifications (if any) which a person may have in order
to be ineligible to become a Director;
Board of
Directors.

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[] (e)the allowances (if any) which may be paid to the Directors;
(f)the persons to whom the Board, committee or governing body
may delegate its powers in respect of the affairs of the Non-
Governmental Organisation.
PA RT V
Financial Provisions
13.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act shall
be exempt from the payment of income tax, but subject to the provisions of
regulations made under subsection (3) below, may apply to the Minister of
Finance to be exempted from the payment of business tax or any other tax,
duty or impost levied by the Government from time to time.
(2) Subject to sections 17 and 109 (1) of the Income and Business Tax
Act, every person in Belize who makes a donation to a Non-Governmental
Organisation registered under this Act shall be eligible, in the financial year
when the donation is made, to have such donation treated as tax-deductible
for income tax and business tax purposes.
(3) The Minister of Finance may, after consultation with the Minister,
make Regulations to give effect to the provisions of this section.
14.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act may
engage in any commercial income-generating project provided that:-
(a)such project is authorised by its Articles and Memorandum
of Association or its By-Laws;
(b)the monies derived therefrom are credited to its account and
are used exclusively for the furtherance of its aims, objects
and purposes.
Exemption from
income tax,
business tax, and
other duties.
CAP. 55.
Commercial
activities.

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(2) Subject to subsection (3) below, where any Non-Governmental
Organisation registered under this Act is involved in the management and
disbursement of monies on credit for projects to individuals or community-
based groups, such monies, and any interest derived therefrom, shall not be
liable to the taxes, duties and imposts referred to in section 13 (1) above.
(3) Subsection (2) above shall only be applicable where the monies
disbursed by the Non-Governmental Organisation and any interest derived
therefrom are approved by the Ministry of Finance to be exempt from the
taxes, duties and imposts referred to in section 13 (1) above.
15.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act shall
keep accounts and other records in relation to its business and shall, subject to
subsection (2) below, prepare annually a statement of accounts in a form which
conforms to the best commercial and accounting standards.
(2) The accounts of every Non-Governmental Organisation registered
under this Act shall be audited annually by an auditor appointed in each year by
its Board of Directors, committee or governing body.
(3) The provisions of this section shall be subject to section 6(2) (h)
above.
16.-(1) Within four months after the end of each financial year, every Non-
Governmental Organisation registered under this Act shall cause to be made
and submitted to the Registrar:-
(a)a statement of its accounts audited in accordance with section
15 (2) above;
(b)a certified copy of its financial statements;
(c)a report dealing generally with the programme of activities
and policies of the Non-Governmental Organisation during
that financial year.
Accounts and
reports.
Annual report.

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[] (2) The documents submitted to the Registrar pursuant to this section
shall be open to inspection by any person upon payment of the prescribed fee.
(3) The Registrar shall publish in the Gazette, and in at least one local
newspaper in circulation throughout Belize, in the month of September in each
year, a copy of the financial statements and other documents submitted to him
by each Non-Governmental Organisation pursuant to subsection (1) above.
17.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act shall
implement internal accounting and administrative procedures necessary to ensure
the transparent and proper use of its financial and other resources.
(2) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act
shall, in addition to complying with the requirements of subsection (1) above,
also comply with the following:-
(a)submit to the designated Ministry of Government, the
documents it submits to the Registrar pursuant to sections
6 (2)and 16 above, at the same time it submits those
documents to the Registrar;
(b)utilise its financial and other resources for the attainment of
its aims, objects and purposes;
(c)take steps to train its officers and employees so that they
become efficient and professional in delivering the
programme of activities of the Non-Governmental
Organisation.
18.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act which
fails to comply with the provisions of this Part shall:-
(a)have its Certificate of Registration cancelled by the Registrar;
(b)lose all the tax exemption privileges granted to Non-
Fiscal and
administrative
transparency.
Penalties.

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Governmental Organisations under this Part:
Provided that before making a decision whether to cancel
the Certificate of Registration of a Non-Governmental
Organisation under paragraph (a) above, the Registrar shall
first make an independent investigation, either on his own
motion or at the request of the designated Ministry of
Government, and shall allow the Non-Governmental
Organisation to present its case.
(2) Any Non-Governmental Organisation aggrieved by the Registrar ’s
decision to cancel its Certificate of Registration may appeal to the Supreme
Court whose decision thereon shall be final.
PA RT V I
Networks and Associations
19.-(1) Any international, regional or intergovernmental organisation operating
in Belize as a Non-Governmental Organisation whose programme of activities
falls within the definition of “sustainable development” shall be and is hereby
required to be registered under this Act.
(2) The Minister may exempt any inter-governmental organisation referred
to in subsection (1) above from registering under this Act.
(3) Any international organisation which intends to operate in Belize as a
Non-Governmental Organisation shall not be entitled to any relief from taxes
and duties as provided under this Act, unless it is registered hereunder, or
unless it operates in Belize only with a Non-Governmental Organisation registered
under this Act.
20.-(1) Every Non-Governmental Organisation registered under this Act may,
subject to section 13 of the Belize Constitution, associate with any other Non-
Governmental Organisation, within or outside Belize, for the purpose of forming
International
Non-
Governmental
Organisations.
Associations
and Networks.
CAP. 4.

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[] Associations, Federations or Networks.
(2) Every Association, Federation or Network established pursuant to
subsection (1) above shall be and is hereby required to be registered under
this Act and upon registration, the provisions of this Act shall apply to it as if it
were a Non-Governmental Organisation.
PART VII
Miscellaneous
21. The Minister may make Regulations to give effect to the provisions of this
Act.
22. This Act shall come into force on a day to be appointed by the Minister by
Order published in the Gazette.
Regulations.
Commencement.

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