The Ministry of the Interior plans to loosen the regulations governing social groups and abolish the Civil Associations Act (人民團體法) in favor of separate laws for political parties, social groups and professional associations.
Parties, groups and associations are regulated by the act, with more than 15,000 groups registered across the nation, according to the ministry’s statistics, a figure which swells to 50,000 when local groups are included.
Ministry officials said that there are about 67 registered associations for lawyers, accountants, doctors and other professions.
Following President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) inauguration in May last year, the ministry proposed amending the act to reclassify and categorize different groups, and remove unnecessary restrictions, such as requiring permission from the government for incorporation.
However, ministry officials have since concluded that the differences between political parties, social groups and professional associations are substantial enough to make it difficult for them to be regulated by a single law, requiring a policy shift.
Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) said that the direction of reform would be to prepare separate laws for each type of group.
“As soon as these three laws are passed, the Civil Associations Act can be abolished,” he said, adding that a political party bill has already been sent to the Legislative Yuan and is awaiting review by the Internal Administration Committee, with a bill addressing social groups to be sent to the Legislative Yuan during the next legislative session.
Cooperative and Civil Associations Preparatory Office Deputy Director Chen Chih-chang (陳志章) said that a social groups bill would seek to move regulation in the direction of rewarding and assisting associations, with differentiation based on size and source of funding.
Organizations with a focus on the public interest that receive substantial subsidies would be subject to more rigorous regulations, such as requiring them to post annual financial reports online, he said.
Because of the substantial differences among different professional associations and the existence of laws such as the Certified Public Accountant Act (會計師法), time would be needed to reach a consensus before a bill regulating professional associations could be proposed, he said.
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