Context: The Central Government recently appointed Ratan Tata, a veteran industrialist, former Supreme Court judge K.T. Thomas and former Deputy Lok Sabha Speaker Kariya Munda as trustees of the PM CARES Fund.
About the PM CARES Fund:
- The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was created as a dedicated fund in March 2020 (and registered as a Public Charitable Trust), following the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
- The stated purpose of the fund is for combating, containment and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar emergency or distress situations in the future.
- The fund is administered on an honorary basis by a Joint Secretary (Administration) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) as Secretary to the fund.
Constitution of the Trust:
- Although the documentation for the constitution of the fund has not been made public, the Government of India has stated that the Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund.
- The Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance are ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
- The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees (the Prime Minister) shall have the authority to appoint 3 trustees to the Board of Trustees.
- Any Trustee appointed shall serve on a non-profit
- The PMO provides the Trustees with administrative and secretarial support for the Trust’s management and administration as needed.
Other details of the Fund:
- The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals or organisations and does not get any budgetary support.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund would qualify for 100% exemption under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund will also qualify to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013
- PM CARES Fund has also got exemption under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been opened.
- This is consistent with respect to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
- PMNRF has also received foreign contributions as a public trust since 2011.
- According to the most recent audited statement, the PM CARES Fund’s corpus nearly tripled to 10,990 crores in the 2020-21 fiscal, while disbursals increased to 3,976 crores.
Performance out of the Fund till now:
- So far, an amount of ~ Rs. 4000 Crore has been allocated from PM CARES Fund for the following activities –
- ₹2000 Crore: For supply of 50,000 ‘Made-in India’ ventilators to Government Hospitals run by Centre/States/UTs.
- ₹1000 Crore: For care of migrant labourers (funds allotted to State/UT Governments).
- Over ₹1,392 crore for procurement of Covid vaccine doses.
- With the help of the PM CARES Fund, the PM CARES for Children scheme was launched. At present this scheme supports 4,345 children.
- The PM CARES for Children scheme was launched on 29th May 2021.
- It was launched to support children who have lost both the parents or legal guardian or adoptive parents or surviving parent to COVID-19 pandemic during the period starting from 11th March 2020.
Controversies about the Fund:
- Lack of transparency and accountability in relation to its establishment, functioning and accounts.
- The total amount donated and the names of donors have not been made public, and the fund is being audited privately.
- Even though the Fund uses government infrastructure and national emblem, the Government initially claimed that the fund is a private fund and is outside the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005.
- Later, the Government reversed its stance, admitting that the PM CARES Fund was a public fund but still refusing to disclose information about it under the RTI Act 2005.
Source: The Hindu