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Govt bars NGO from receiving foreign funds

21 April 2017, 09:32 | Jan Cross

Govt bars NGO from receiving foreign funds

The action against the PHFI was taken after the ministry found that the NGO was allegedly violating provisions of the FCRA

India's government has canceled permission for foreign funding for one of the country's main public health organizations, whose donors include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Moreover, it has also been alleged that PHFI had also opened bank accounts which the ministry was not aware of.

The five activities for which NGOs can receive foreign contributions under the law include those of a social, cultural, religious, educational and economic nature.

According to reports, MHA took the step after they found that PHFI was allegedly violating provisions of FCRA by "diverting" foreign funds for purposes other than those the money was intended for.

Since its inception until March 2013, the PHFI had received a total corpus of over Rs 100 crore, of which Rs 65 crore came from the Indian government.

The move comes in the wake of an allegation by the RSS-backed Swadeshi Jagran Manch that claims the NGO is part of a nexus between the Gates Foundation and big pharma and its influence on policy making in public health.

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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.

PHFI, in a release issued on Wednesday, said it had received a notification from the home ministry regarding the renewal of its FCRA registration.

He further added that, "Certain observations were made by MHA on utilisation of funds related to PHFI's projects on tobacco, HIV/AIDS and it's financial reports. We are seeking continuation of FCRA registration, based on clarifications provided". PHFI has provided the necessary clarification and information to the Home Ministry and has also submitted supporting documents. It was launched in 2006 by former prime minister Manmohan Singh. Many of these activities have been in partnership with the ministry of health and family welfare.

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.

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