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PHFI loses FCRA licence for lobbying

Reason: It used funds for anti-tobacco drive

April 19, 2017 11:38 pm | Updated April 20, 2017 09:35 am IST - New Delhi

NEW DELHI, 28/08/2012: A view of North Block which houses the offices of Ministry of Home and Finance, in New Delhi._Photo: V.V. Krishnan 28/08/12

NEW DELHI, 28/08/2012: A view of North Block which houses the offices of Ministry of Home and Finance, in New Delhi._Photo: V.V. Krishnan 28/08/12

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the country’s largest public health advocacy group.

The NGO has been barred from receiving foreign funds on the ground, among others, that it used foreign contributions to lobby parliamentarians, the media and the government on tobacco control issues, which “is prohibited under the FCRA.”

‘Funds diverted’

The MHA has claimed that funds were diverted for this use. It also listed other alleged violations such as remittances to foreign countries from its FCRA account, and failure to declare all its bank accounts to the government. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a major donor of funds to the PHFI, having transferred ₹183 crore to it between 2010 and 2015. The PHFI’s FCRA licence, which enabled it to receive foreign funds, was renewed in August 2016.

It was valid till 2021. It is believed that the think tank’s association with the BMGF played an important role in the government’s action against them – a fact that was corroborated by a Health Ministry official.

As for the charge that the PHFI used foreign funds to lobby with parliamentarians and others on tobacco control, it undertook this initiative in partnership with the Indian Health Ministry.

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has cancelled the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) licence of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the country’s largest public health advocacy group.

The NGO has been barred from receiving foreign funds on the ground, among others, that it used foreign contributions to lobby parliamentarians, the media and the government on tobacco control issues, which “is prohibited under the FCRA.”

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