PM CARES Fund - Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance & Relief in Emergency Situation Fund
The PM CARES is a dedicated national fund created to combat the dreadful contingencies like COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The fund was created on 27 March 2020, in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide relief and to ‘deal with any kind of emergency’
The PM-CARES Fund collected Rs 10,990 crore till March 2021 and spent Rs 3,976 or 36.17 per cent of the corpus, according to the audited financial statement posted on its website.
Take a look at why this fund was created, what controversy surrounded it and what has the money been spent on.
Creation and Constitution of PM-CARES fund
The Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM-CARES Fund) was created on 27 March, 2020 following the COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The primary objective of the fund, according to the website, is "dealing with any kind of emergency... and provide relief to the affected".
The objectives of the fund are:
• To undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency, calamity or distress, either man-made or natural, including the creation or upgradation of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities, other necessary infrastructure, funding relevant research or any other type of support.
• To render financial assistance, provide grants of payments of money or take such other steps as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees to the affected population.
The prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the PM-CARES fund and the ministers of defence, home affairs and finance are ex-officio trustees. The fund consists entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals and organisations and does not get any budgetary support.
According to the audited statement of the fund, it received Rs 3,076.62 crore in the period between 2019-2020. Of this, Rs 39,67,748 was received through foreign donations.
The statement shows that from 2020 to 31 March 2021, the fund had collected Rs 10,990 crore.
In the financial year 2020-21, it received voluntary contributions from domestic donors to the tune of Rs 7,184 crore and foreign contributions amounting to Rs 494 crore. Along with interest, and a Rs 25 lakh refund of unspent balance from the National Disaster Management Authority, the Fund’s total receipts for the year amounted to ₹7,193 crore.
How the money was spent
The audited statement also revealed how the funds were spent on COVID-19 relief and other precautionary measures. It shows that Rs 3,976 crore was disbursed from the PM-CARES Fund in 2020-21.
The largest disbursal of Rs 1,393 crore went to purchase 6.6 crore doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
Another Rs 1,311 crore was used to buy 50,000 Made in India ventilators for use in Central and State government hospitals.
Another Rs 1,000 crore was disbursed to states and Union territories (UTs) for the welfare of migrants.
The statement also shows that Rs 201 crore was used to install 162 pressure swing adsorption (PSA) medical oxygen generation plants inside public health facilities across the country, and about Rs 50 crore on setting up 16 RT-PCR testing labs in nine states and UTs as well as two 500-bed makeshift COVID-19 hospitals in Muzzafarpur and Patna.
A sum of Rs 20 crore was also given to two autonomous institute laboratories under the department of biotechnology for upgrading them as central drug laboratories (CDLs) for testing batches of COVID-19 vaccines.
PM CARES Fund Objectives
Keeping in mind the need to provide relief to the affected in emergent situations of Coronavirus COVID-19, a public charitable trust under the name of PM CARES Fund has been set up. The PM CARES is a dedicated national fund created to combat the dreadful contingencies like COVID-19 pandemic in India. The primary objective of this fund is to deal with forthcoming emergencies or distress situations.
Objectives of PM CARES Fund:
- To undertake and support relief or assistance of any kind relating to a public health emergency or any other kind of emergency, calamity or distress, either man-made or natural, including the creation or upkeep of healthcare or pharmaceutical facilities, other necessary infrastructure, funding relevant research or any other type of support.
- To render financial assistance, provide grants of payments of money or take such other steps as may be deemed necessary by the Board of Trustees to the affected population.
- To undertake any other activity, which is not inconsistent with the above Objects.
PM CARES Fund Important FACTS
- The fund does not get any budgetary support and consists entirely of voluntary contributions from the individuals or organizations.
- The fund will be utilised in meeting the contingencies or emergency situation aroused in the country.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund by the individuals would qualify for 100% tax exemption under 80G of the Income Tax Act, 1961.
- Donations to PM CARES Fund by the organisations would qualify to be counted as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activity expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013.
- A separate account for receiving the donations from the foreign countries has been opened. This enables PM CARES Fund to accept donations and contributions from individuals and organizations based in foreign countries. Foreign donations in the PM CARES Fund would also get exemption under the FCRA. 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.
Controversy over PM-CARES fund
When it was created, the PM-CARES fund was criticised for its lack of transparency and for its use of the government insignia.
At the time of its creation, several Opposition leaders questioned the need for such a fund. Congress chief Sonia Gandhi questioned the decision of setting up the fund when there was already existing Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) which is similar in nature and other statutory established funds like the State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF), and the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF).
It became even more controversial when on 23 September, 2021, the Union government and the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) told the Delhi High Court that the PM-CARES Fund cannot be brought under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act because it’s not a public authority, and nor can it be listed as a body of the State.
The response came to a plea filed seeking to know the legal status of the fund. One of the pleas sought to declare the PM CARES Fund a “State” under the Constitution to ensure transparency in its functioning. His other petition has sought that PM Cares be brought under RTI as a “public authority”.