Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Indian public health group loses permit for foreign funds

Indian public health group loses permit for foreign funds

The seven violations cited by the home ministry against PHFI, which has been receiving a significant chunk of its foreign funding from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, include using foreign contributions to lobby media, parliamentarians and government on tobacco control policy issues, "which is prohibited under FCRA".

The ministry has alleged that the PHFI had opened multiple accounts without disclosing it to the ministry, obtained two PAN cards and under-reported the foreign donations by almost Rs 200 crore over a three-year period. Of these, the FCRA licenses of over 9,500 NGOs were cancelled in 2015.

The home ministry alleged PHFI had opened multiple accounts without disclosing it to the ministry, possessed two PAN cards and also misreported the foreign donations received in three years. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation accounted for almost one-third of its foreign funding, USAID for around 10%, while the remaining donors included some leading western pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline.

Rajeev Chhibber, spokesman for the Public Health Foundation of India, said Friday that the organization received a letter from the Ministry of Home Affairs saying it lost its registration to get foreign money last week.

The NGO provides technical assistance to central and state governments in several areas of engagement including HIV prevention, access to drugs, tobacco control, immunisation, environmental health, universal health coverage, public health cadre development and capacity building of primary care physicians. We have submitted all documents of fund usage to MHA and provided the needed clarifications.

A home ministry official said the action was part of a crackdown on non-government agencies and advocacy organisations following inputs with the Centre suggesting that such organisations receiving foreign funding had emerged as virtual "sleeper cells" that had the potential to harm national interest at the behest of foreign powers. He said his group is seeking "an early resolution of the issue" and continuation of its registration under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act. According to the PHFI website, the NGO was launched by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006.

The notification is related to Rs 43 crore grant which was sanctioned for PHFI's projects by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW) and provided by BMGF.

Like this: