The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) is deeply disturbed at the stubborn refusal of the Prime Minister’s Office to disclose the details of the PM Cares Fund. It has been declared that this is a fund set-up by a private trust with Prime Minister as the Chair and ministers of Defence, Home Affairs and Finance as trustees. It is claimed that since it is a private trust, it is not subject to RTI questioning and audit by any government auditor. It is clear that there is no transparency or accountability of this fund.
This fund was announced in March as the Parliament session was adjourning. A public appeal was issued for liberal donations to this fund with the ostensible aim to combat the Covid pandemic. Government employees and professionals were made to compulsorily donate a day’s salary. Two years of MPLAD funds have been diverted to this trust fund. The Companies Act 2013 was amended to allow donations to this fund of a private trust to be eligible under Corporate Social Responsibility contributions. This fund liberally uses the national emblem, the PM’s image and is backed by official circulars to the public sector unit employees to donate. Tax exemptions for donations to this fund have been provided.
Till date, there is no answer from the PMO as to why a separate private trust fund had to be created when the official Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund has been in existence since independence, which is transparent, accountable and audited by the CAG.
Media reports inform that nearly Rs. 10,000 crores have already been collected by this fund. Of this, over Rs. 4,000 crores have come from government agencies and employees, which could have only happened because of the authority and sanction by the government.
The CPI(M) had asked that these funds be released to augment our health facilities and meet the shortages of infrastructure for testing of people and treatment of patients affected by the coronavirus. Serious allegations and controversies have been exposed regarding the procurement of ventilators from this fund without any open tendering process.
The Polit Bureau of the CPI(M) is of the firm opinion that this fund must be made transparent and accountable. The fund must immediately be transferred to the state governments who are in the frontline combating the pandemic. The details of this fund must be made public and subjected to public scrutiny.