A total of 51 NGOs were closed down last year by the commissioner for voluntary organisations after they broke the law by failing to submit their annual returns for a number of years.

Money left in their coffers – more than €26,000 – was distributed to other NGOs and to a dedicated voluntary organisations fund.

Still, the commissioner’s office saw a significant improvement in 2018, when 67 per cent had not submitted annual returns.

Last year, the figure was down to 44 per cent.

Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations Anthony Abela Medici provided the figures in his 2019 annual report in which he expressed frustration at the struggle being faced by his office to recruit staff and find adequate premises.

All voluntary organisations and foundations with an income of €5,000 or more are obliged to enrol with the commission and the rest are bound to enlist. Up to the end of last year, the number of those enrolled or enlisted was 1,849.

From the media monitoring it carries out, the commission reported that no organisation had received a private donation of €15,000 or more in 2019.

The commissioner said his office’s workload was increasing due to the rise in the number of NGOs being enrolled. The “tedious and more often than not futile” position taken by the authorities had substantially weakened the capabilities of the office, Abela Medici complained.

He said the limited personnel at its disposal found themselves lost in a quagmire of administrative requirements month after month. This was after trying to re-issue calls for applications for posts, with long delays required by OPM.

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