Recently, the National Religious Affairs Administration and the Ministry of Finance jointly promulgated the Measures for the Financial Management of Religious venues (“the Measures”).
On the promulgation, the head of the National Religious Affairs Administration met the press, answering relevant reporter questions on the formulation of the Measures, according to the WeChat of "United Front Work Department".
Q: Please introduce the necessity of formulating the Measures.
A: The formulation of the Measures is an urgent need to safeguard the religious venues and the legitimate rights and interests of believers. After the promulgation of the Measures on the Supervision and Management of Financial Affairs of Venues for Religious Activities (Trial) in 2010, the financial management level has been obviously improved in religious venues by carrying out special work, promoting the establishment of financial management system, opening bank settlement accounts for institutions, and using unified social credit codes. However, there are still outstanding irregular financial management problems in some places, and the legitimate rights and interests of religious circles have been infringed upon. In this regard, religious figures, believers and relevant sectors have called for further strengthening the financial supervision and management of religious venues.
The formulation of the Measures is important to thoroughly implement the Regulations on Religious Affairs. In 2017, the newly revised Regulations on Religious Affairs clarified that religious venues are non-profit organizations, and made further provisions on strengthening the financial management. Therefore, it is necessary to improve the relevant system, ensure the non-profit feature of religious venues, prevent the property loss, and guide religious circles to make rational use of religious property and income. More than ten years' practice after the promulgation of the Trial has provided a solid foundation for the formal measures for financial management of religious venues.
Q: Please tell us about the process of formulating the Measures.
A: In the first half of 2020, the National Religious Affairs Administration and the Ministry of Finance initiated the drafting work. The draft solicited opinions from relevant departments of the central and state government organizations, national religious organizations, united front, financial and religious work departments of provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities directly under the Central Government), and relevant experts and scholars. According to the Legislation Law and the Regulations on Procedures for the Formulation of Rules, the draft was open to the public for comments from November 5th to December 5th, 2021, on the website of the Ministry of Justice of the PRC. According to the collected opinions and suggestions, the National Religious Affairs Administration and the Ministry of Finance revised and improved the Measures. The formulation process of the Measures fully reflects the requirements of scientific lawmaking, democratic lawmaking and lawmaking according to law.
Q: Compared with the Trial, what’s new in the Measures?
A: Since the implementation of the Trial, it has played an important role in regulating the financial behavior of religious venues. On its basis, the Measures further improve the relevant regulations on financial management of religious venues. First, the word "supervision" is deleted from the title, emphasizing the focus on strengthening the standardized financial management within religious activity sites. The second is to improve the internal management mechanism of religious venues, add a chapter on "Financial Management Institutions and Personnel", and make clear provisions on the responsibilities of financial management institutions, the avoidance, restrictions and duties of members. The third is to add the relevant contents of ensuring the property safety of religious activities sites. For example, it is stipulated that the income of religious venues shall not be collected through personal Alipay or WeChat accounts or through other Internet payment methods. When accepting donations, the donor shall be given a receipt with a uniform number printed by the religious affairs department of the provincial government. Income shall not be used in areas and activities prohibited by laws and regulations. The religious venues shall not participate in illegal private lending or any form of illegal financial activities, and so on. The fourth is to improve the supervision mechanism, which adds the financial department's guidance and supervision duties, religious groups' assistance in management duties, and the supervisory power of donors and legal person supervisors of religious venues.
Q: What are the provisions on regulating the financial behavior of religious venues?
A: The Measures mainly have the following provisions in regulating the financial behavior of places of religious venues:
First is to establish and improve the internal management mechanism. The Measures require that religious venues establish and improve internal financial management systems, set up financial management institutions, and equip them with necessary financial personnel. Under the leadership of the venue management organization, the financial management institution shall conduct unified management of the venue financial affairs. Major issues related to financial management must be decided by the collective consultation of the venue management organization.
The second is to standardize accounting management. Religious venues shall implement the state accounting system of the relevant non-governmental non-profit organizations, lawfully set up accounting books, and adopt the debit-credit bookkeeping method for accounting. An approved institution can be entrusted to keep accounts according to needs. The financial accounting report of the previous year shall be provided to the religious affairs department within three months after the end of each year.
The third is to standardize income and expenditure management. Religious venues shall generally formulate annual income budget and expenditure budget. All income should be recorded in time and deposited in the bank settlement account for institution, not in personal accounts, and not be collected through personal Alipay, WeChat and other Internet payment methods. When accepting donations, the donor shall be given a receipt with a uniform number printed by the religious affairs department of the provincial government, and the donation box shall be co-managed by three people. The income shall be used for activities consistent with the purpose of this place, and shall not be used for distribution, or in areas and activities prohibited by laws and regulations. Financial expenditure examination and approval system shall be implemented and large expenditures shall be subject to the collective consultation and consent of the venue management organization. The venues shall not participate in illegal private lending and any form of illegal financial activities.
The fourth is to standardize asset management. Religious venues should establish an asset management system, strengthen the management of current assets, fixed assets, intangible assets, cultural relics and assets, and ensure the safety of assets.
Q: What are the provisions on financial supervision of religious venues?
A: The Measures clarify the supervision right of different bodies to religious venues.
First, the religious affairs department and the finance department should guide the religious venues to establish and improve the internal financial management system, check the implementation of the system, urge the religious venues with problems to make rectification, and lawfully punish the illegal acts. The religious affairs department, finance department and relevant governmental departments can organize financial and asset inspections and audits of religious venues.
Second, the religious organizations should assist and urge religious venues to establish and improve the internal financial management system, and help religious venues with financial management problems to make rectification.
Third, religious venues should regularly announce the income and expenditure, the acceptance and use of donations in an appropriate manner, and accept the supervision of religious personnel, donors and believers of the venue. The reasonable opinions and suggestions put forward by donors and believers shall be adopted by the venue management organization who may give feedback to donors and believers appropriately. For this religious venue as a legal person, its financial management institution and its work shall be supervised by the supervisor of the venue.
Fourth, financial personnel in religious venues have the right to exercise financial supervision in accordance with the Accounting Law of the People's Republic of China and other relevant regulations, and put forward opinions on illegal financial acts and report them to the registration management agency and other relevant departments.
- Translated by Oliver Zuo