Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Illegal Charity Collectors Return to Saudi Schools | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Jeddah, Asharq Al-Awsat- After a long absence, the collection of donations at schools and universities has returned after being banned by Saudi authorities.

The return of illegal donations to schools coincided with a report by Al-Birr Charitable Society in Jeddah, which disclosed that Saudis and foreigners residing in the Kingdom were apprehended for collecting donations in front of mosques in the name of the society. A woman was also apprehended for calling on businessmen claiming that she was responsible for donations in that society. Upon investigation, it transpired that her claims were false.

Dayfallah al-Balawi, director general of charitable societies at the Ministry of Social Affairs, stressed that it is prohibited to have a third party between donors and charitable societies and donations should be made directly to the society or to its bank account without giving donations to any person. He added that the society should open a current account in its official name at the Saudi bank accredited by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency in order to receive donations instead of using other unofficial channels.

Al-Balawi told Asharq Al-Awsat that no accounts should be opened in the name of persons collecting donations regardless of the status or popularity of these persons and no person should be allowed to collect these donations directly. He added that the societies should specify those who are authorized to spend the donations in coordination with the competent quarters, provided that their number is not less than two and that expenditure takes place through checks only.

These measures have recently been observed after the spread of the phenomenon of collecting donations from educational and religious circles and assembly points for charitable and religious purposes without a legitimate umbrella or official authorization to those collecting donations. This led some to use these methods to finance suspicious aims.

Collecting donations via official receipts was the solution reached by the Ministry of Social Affairs in cooperation with charitable societies. In order to check this phenomenon, it banned monetary coupons as Al-Balawi said. He stressed that all societies authorized to collect donations should print the official receipts at official printing houses. Al-Balawi stressed that “the printing press authorized to print receipts of donations made to charitable societies should print these receipts only after seeing the authorization given to the society by the supervisory quarter.” He said “the name of the printing press, its license number and date, the name of the recipient, and the national identification card number should be given in the receipt. The receipt should also have a stub and accounts will be calculated accordingly.”

Al-Balawi warned that anyone who violates these rules and regulations will be referred to court and get the punishment he deserves after conducting the necessary investigation with him by the competent authorities.

Mahmud Baqays, director of the Al-Birr Charitable Society in Jeddah, commented on the spread of the phenomenon of women volunteering to collect donations from women gatherings, schools, and universities by saying: “Regulations state that workers should be provided with identification cards documented by the society and they should produce them when asked. The side supervising the donations should be notified of the total donations collected and the details of revenues. This applies to all women willing to volunteer to collect donations.”

Umaymah Zahid, director of the educational media and women’s public relations unit at the educational directorate in Jeddah, said an official procedure is usually observed when donations are collected from the ministry’s schools. She added that the door is not open for anyone who wants to collect donations. She said: “The charitable society sends a letter asking for a license. It indicates in the letter the purpose of the donations it wants to collect and the name of its representative.”