Indian public health group loses permit for foreign funds

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PHFI was associated with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), which was one of its biggest donors.

The license granted to NGO Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI) under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act (FCRA) 2010 has been cancelled by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

NGOs receiving foreign fund have been of foreigner division in MHA with FCRA licences being cancelled. "A committee report tabled in March previous year says: ":They highlighted before the committee the serious repercussions of the tobacco use on the health of humans, the effect & impact of printing of big and visible pictorial warning on different tobacco products viz. cigarette, bidi & pan masala packs on the illiterate and the youth of the country, the position of India vis-a-vis other countries in printing size of pictorial warning on tobacco products etc".

Indian Express notes the allegations against the NGO include alleged lobbying with parliamentarians and media for the anti-tobacco lobby.

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.

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The NGO said it had submitted required clarifications to the objections raised by the Home Ministry. Certain observations have been made by the Ministry on utilisation of funds related to PHFIs projects on tobacco, HIV/AIDS and its financial reports, it said. "We are seeking continuation of FCRA registration, based on clarifications provided". "Many of these activities were in partnership with the Ministry of Health".

Chhibber said the organization had submitted all the required documents to the ministry.

The PHFI claims it is a non-profit, public-private initiative working in the field of public health in India.

Notably, the PHFI has been collaborating with a range of institutions including the ministry of health and Bill and Melinda Gates foundation to improve public health in India and improve global public health. According to the PHFI website, the NGO was launched by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2006. Infosys co-founder Narayana Murthy is its chairperson, and other members include former deputy chairman of the planning commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia.