NGO allowed to receive foreign funds

The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which cancelled the FCRA licence of the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), the country’s largest public health advocacy group last year, has now allowed the NGO to receive foreign funds by “prior permission.”

Its notification said the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has contributed Rs. 65 crore towards the corpus fund of the foundation for setting up Indian Institutes of Public Health from its budget.

The notification also said that PHFI had been running five such institutes and working with several State and some departments of the Central government to execute some health projects. To allow such projects to continue, the MHA said, “PHFI shall have to obtain prior permission before acceptance of each contribution.”

The notification also said that PHFI should utilise such foreign contributions lying unused in its bank accounts strictly in accordance with the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), 2010.

The NGO was 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.”

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) is a major contributor to the NGO.