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Now, Home Ministry renews FCRA of PHFI

Move comes four years after it was barred from getting foreign funds for lobbying with parliamentarians, media, govt on tobacco control issues

February 08, 2022 07:13 pm | Updated 09:15 pm IST - New Delhi

Photo: Twitter/@thePHFI

Photo: Twitter/@thePHFI

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has renewed the FCRA (Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act) registration of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), a public health advocacy group, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.

The move comes four years after the organisation was barred from receiving foreign funds for lobbying with parliamentarians, the media and the government on tobacco control issues.

The PHFI’s FCRA registration was cancelled in 2017, days after Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), the economic arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) brought out a ‘white paper’ on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s (BMGF) influence in India’s health sector. The BMGF was a major contributor to the NGO, having transferred ₹183 crore to it between 2010 and 2015. The FCRA registration, renewed in 2017, was valid till 2021.

Partially revoked in 2018

The PHFI’s registration was partially revoked in 2018 and it was placed under the “prior permission” sanctioned list. It effectively meant that the organisation had to obtain prior permission from the MHA before acceptance of each foreign contribution. The latest move means that the PHFI could receive foreign funds in its designated bank account without the additional ring of check by the MHA.

On Tuesday, Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, in a written reply in the Lok Sabha, said, “since November, 2021 the FCRA certificate of Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), New Delhi and Missionaries of Charity (MoC), Kolkata was renewed by way of revision.”

The Minister was responding to a question by members Vijayakumar and T. R. Paarivendhar on the number of NGOs whose FCRA was recently restored.

In January, the MHA restored the FCRA registration of Missionaries of Charity (MoC), a Catholic religious congregation set up by Nobel laureate Mother Teresa, days after it declined to renew the registration on the grounds that “some adverse inputs were noticed.”

On December 31, the MoC was among 6,000 NGOs whose registration had ceased to exist. FCRA registration is mandatory to receive foreign donations.

Applications for renewal

The Minister stated that about 5,800 FCRA registered associations had not submitted their applications for renewal within the stipulated time and their registration was thus deemed to have ceased.

In another reply, the Minister said that FCRA provided for revision by the Centre of any order passed in a proceeding against any person registered under the Act.

“A total of 1,811 FCRA registration certificates of NGOs/Associations have been cancelled during the last three years i.e. 2019 to 2021,” the Minister’s reply noted.

Since 2019, the registration of 2,309 NGOs was denied and renewal of 445 such NGOs was declined. Another 123 NGOs were placed under the prior permission category, it added.

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