The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund), which is a dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic has been opened up for donations from abroad after it was exempted from the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA). The foreign donors can now download donation receipts directly from the PM-CARES portal, Economic Times reports.
Further, the government has stated that the PM-CARES fund will be audited by one or more qualified independent auditors who will be appointed by the Trustees, including Prime Minister.
In addition, the PM-CARES Fund will also receive exemptions from the operation of all provisions of the FCRA Act and can now accept donations from individuals and organisations based in foreign countries through foreign credit/debit cards and through wire transfer/SWIFT. To this purpose, a separate bank account has been opened. Also, donors will be able to download the receipts directly from the portal itself.
Earlier, in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Sonia Gandhi had lamented over PM-CARES fund and had demanded that all money under the PM-CARES fund should be transferred to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund to “ensure efficiency, transparency, accountability and audit”. She had termed the new fund as a “waste of effort and resources” to create two separate silos for distribution of funds.
It is pertinent to note that the PMNRF had a management committee that oversaw how the funds are employed. While the Prime Minister has discretion, the committee, when it was set up by Jawaharlal Nehru included the President of the Congress party.
The Modi government seems to have ignored the current Congress President’s demands
Further, the Left parties had also cried foul claiming that receipts for donations to the PM-CARES fund are not available. Congress leaders had also asked why the CM Relief Funds are not eligible for funds from companies under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), like the PM-CARES.
Interestingly, the issues raised by most Congress CMs regarding the CSR donation is an outcome of a law (Companies Act) passed by the UPA Government in July 2013, under which funds set up by the state government were omitted from the list of ‘eligible funds’ which could receive CSR donations.
“The controversy around CM relief funds not being eligible for CSR is hence a result of incomplete knowledge of the law and facts around it,” a senior government official said, as per the ET report.
According to the senior official, the law passed in 2013 notified that “eligible funds” for CSR included only the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund (PMRF) and any other fund set up by the Central government for purposes stated therein.
He also clarified that the contribution of funds to the state disaster management authority for combating the coronavirus shall be counted as CSR expenditure and hence companies can make CSR contributions to any state government for fighting the epidemic through the disaster management authority route.
He added, “The Corporate Affairs Ministry on March 23 clarified that Covid-19 activities relating to the promotion of healthcare, preventive healthcare and sanitation, and disaster management shall qualify as CSR expenditure.”
In the face of the Wuhan Coronavirus, Prime Minister Modi launched PM CARES Fund where he invited public contribution to fight the pandemic. The PM CARES Fund is an emergency fund that was set up to provide relief to those affected by the Wuhan Coronavirus.
The PM CARES, or the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund has been set up as a public charitable trust. The Prime Minister is the chairman of this trust and its members include Defence Minister, Home Minister And Finance Minister.
Meanwhile, the PM-CARES fund will also have up to 13 eminent experts to undertake relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency including the creation and up-gradation of healthcare facilities.
It is notable here that with open-hearted donations from the public, corporates and celebrities, the PM-CARES fund had collected over Rs 6500 crores with a few days of its launch.