PM CARES Fund

Published on - September 21, 2022

Source: The Hindu

Context:

The Prime Minister of India has recently chaired a meeting of the Board of Trustees of the PM CARES Fund.

PM highlighted that the PM CARES for Children scheme is supporting 4345 children.

PM announced that PM CARES has a larger vision of effectively relief assistance, mitigation measures and capacity building.

The meeting was also attended by the newly nominated trustees of the Fund:

  • Justice K.T. Thomas, Former Judge of Supreme Court.
  • Kariya Munda, Former Deputy Speaker.
  • Ratan Tata, Chairman of Tata.

The Prime Minister mentioned that the participation of new Trustees and Advisors will deliver wider perspectives to the functioning of the PM CARES Fund.

About PM-CARES Fund

  1. PM CARES Fund has been registered as a Public Charitable Trust under the Registration Act, 1908.
  2. Prime Minister is the ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund and the Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance, of the Government of India, is ex-officio Trustees of the Fund.
  3. The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organizations and does not get any budgetary support.
  4. Donations to the Fund would qualify for 80G benefits for 100% exemption under the Income Tax Act, 1961.
  5. Donations to the Fund will also qualify to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013.
  6. It has also got an exemption under the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA), which enables the PM CARES Fund to accept donations and contributions from individuals and organizations based in foreign countries.
  7. PM-CARES Fund is not a public authority under the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.
  8. The Comptroller and Auditor General’s (CAG) clarified that it wouldn’t audit the Fund as it is ‘a charitable organization’ and is also based on donations from individuals and organizations.
  9. It would be audited by an independent auditor outside of the government.

Eligibility criteria under PM CARE

PM-CARE covers all children who have lost: Both parents Surviving parents or legal guardians/adoptive parents/single adoptive parents due to COVID 19 pandemic, starting from 11th March 2020 the date on which WHO has declared and characterized COVID-19 as a pandemic till 28th February 2022.

To get benefits under this scheme, a child should not have completed 18 years of age on the date of death of their parents.

Status of PM-CARE Fund

The total donation received under the fund is nearly Rs 11,000 crore, while the expenditure made from the fund is about Rs 3,980 crore, according to the latest audited statement.

Rs 1,000 crore was granted for migrant welfare

The government has used a part of the fund to buy medical equipment, including ventilators, to support the fight against COVID-19 and has also provided relief to migrants.

Controversy related to PM-CARE Fund

  1. Notices were issued by various government departments, “urging” employees to contribute their part of their salary.
  2. Indian Railway, Army, Navy and Air force, Defence PSUs and employees of the defence ministry have donated to the Fund. While a major portion of these contributions has been voluntary, it appears that many government employees weren’t given any choice.
  3. Donations are made from Public departments, and therefore the public has the right to know details of the fund and expenditure made under it, but the government made it clear that the fund is outside the preview of the RTI act, and CAG will not audit the fund.
  4. The PMO has also refused to make public any documents related to the PM CARES fund. Total lack of transparency about the use of the funds.
  5. The PM CARES Fund is exempt from scrutiny and monitoring of all foreign donations.