At the end of September, the Law amending and supplementing the Law on Non-Profit Legal Entities (LNPLE) entering into force in the beginning of 2018 was published in the Official Gazette. The major change adopted after long debates and discussions consists in the obligation for all foundations and associations to re-register in the Registry Agency like all commercial companies. The term for this is three years – from January 2018 until December 31, 2020. The proceedings will be free.
According to the new regulations, the associations will no longer register in the county court corresponding to their registered seat. Their registration in the Central Register of NGOs, led by the Ministry of Justice, is no longer required. Following the closure of this Register, the annual report for the activity and the financial report of NPOs will be announced in the Registry Agency until June 30 of the year, following the year to which they relate. If an association established for the public benefit does not submit its reports within the statutory deadlines and order two consecutive years, the following will be entered officially in the Register of NGOs at the Registry Agency”: “suspended status of public benefit”. Applications for initial registrations and registrations of changes can be submitted electronically with an electronic signature.
The second large group of amendments to LNPLE is related to the establishment of a Council for the Development of a Civil Society to the Council of Ministers, which will participate in the development and the implementation of policies supporting the development of a civil society. Representatives of NPOs realizing activity of public benefit will be members of the Council and the Deputy Prime minister will be the chairman responsible for the implementation of the strategy to support the development of civil societies in the Republic of Bulgaria. LNPLE regulates in details the activity of the Council, its organization and composition.
The state budget will provide annually funds for the promotion and the financial support of projects of public interest of NPOs. The evaluation of projects and proposals for the allocation of funds will be based on criteria, conditions and procedures, adopted by the Council for the Development of a Civil Society which itself will make a proposal to the Council of Ministers.
The amendments to the Law on Legal Entities are expected to significantly reduce the administrative burden for NPOs in their registration, increase their transparency and accountability, improve communication between the civil sector and public authorities and contribute to sustainable development of civil organizations in the country.
author: Vesela Velinova, attorney-at-law
Member of “Velinov and partners” Consulting House