The PM CARES fund which was launched amid the coronavirus crisis to help the people with a primary objective of dealing with any emergency is now under scrutiny and public is demanding its details to released by the government. In this article we will discuss why this separate PM CARES fund was set up when India already had PMNRF – Prime Minister National Relief Fund? What is the difference between PM CARES Fund and PMNRF and what is the controversy surrounding the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ (PM CARES Fund)?
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The PM CARES Fund can be better understood with its full name that is Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. As the name suggests, the fund was created to handle situations during an emergency. Of course, the time it was created that is 28th March 2020; the main goal was to fight against the pandemic COVID 19. Within a time period of just 45 days, the fund got a contribution of about thousands of crores from different individuals, organizations, and groups.
How the PM CARES Fund is managed?
The Prime Minister of India heads the Fund and there are other three trustees taking care of the fund. These trustees are the Finance Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, and the Defense Minister.
Contribution to the PM CARES Fund has been exempted from tax as it is the social responsibility of an individual towards the nation. Not just the individuals and organizations of India, but the Fund has also welcomed donations and contributions from International sources. Also, all the contributions pouring in are also exempted from tax as per the Foreign Contribution Act 2010.
Earlier, The Central Government had refused such Foreign Contributions during the natural calamity that swept Kerala in the past. But it seems the Central is getting ready and equipped to fight against one of the biggest problems as of now that is the Pandemic. Hence, more amounts of contributions can be helpful in dealing with the situations prevailing in the country.
Then, what is Prime Minister National Relief Fund?
Well, this is a question that many people may have that when the country already had Prime Minister National Relief Fund with a similar goal, then why another fund i.e. PM Care Fund was created.
Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF) was created in the year 1948 for helping the refugees who were coming back to India from Pakistan after the Partition of India. Now, the Relief Fund is used to help people during a situation of a natural calamity, or for offering medical relief to people who have met major accidents or have got injured in riots or even issues such as the acid attacks.
Earlier, this fund had many trustees such as Finance Minister, Tata Trustees, the President, and many others. But soon in the year 1985, the whole responsibility was provided solely to the Prime Minister.
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As of December 2019, the PMNRF had 3,800 crore balance and this had led many of the people such as the oppositions to raise a question about the creation of another fund. Well, one of the major points to answer this question can be that the current Pandemic situation has almost shaken up the whole world. India has got equally devastated and it was very necessary to get financially strong to fight against such a situation.
Even the States have their own Chief Minister Relief Funds but recently managing along in this pandemic is not possible. But sometimes, it can still get difficult in managing things.
This can be understood well with an example. When the cyclone storm Amphan destroyed the whole of West Bengal, it got quite difficult for the Chief Minister of West Bengal to tackle things all alone as the Chief Minister Relief Fund amount was not enough to meet up the situations of both Amphan as well as the COVID 19 cases. Hence, the Prime Minister supported the state with an amount of Rs. 1,000 crore.
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In just 45 days, the PM CARES fund was getting donations from different individuals as well as groups in huge amounts. Bollywood actors such as Akshay Kumar, Shahrukh Khan, and many others have contributed huge amounts to the fund. Similarly, employees from the Defense, Railways, and other sectors of the society have also donated amounts to the fund. Big firms such as Reliance and Tata have made major contributions towards the fund. Altogether, a huge amount of amount has poured in the fund in just 45 days.
Now the major controversy is that the officials who manage the fund of PM CARES are not able to provide any calculation of the balance in the fund. Also, it is not clear whether the contributions are under the RTI Act or not. This has raised a number of questions. The Supreme Court has ordered the authorities in this light to provide proper information in 30 days about the total amount available in the fund, the sources from where the contributions have come, and the places where the amount has been used.
Though as of now even after the 30 days notice, the authorities have not offered any reply to the order from the Supreme Court, a group of independent auditors has been grouped in order to audit the fund of PM CARES currently.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. Who heads the PM CARES Fund?
Answer: The Prime Minister of India heads the PM CARES Fund.
Q2. Who administers the PMNRF?
Answer: The PMNRF is administered by an independent auditor who is not a part of the Government.
Q3. How does PMNRF help?
Answer: PMNRF helps in providing medical help to people who suffer in major accidents, riots, and similar other incidents.
Q4. How much balance does PM CARES have?
Answer: It is yet to be disclosed by the authorities about the balance in the PM CARES fund.
Q5. How much amount from PM CARES has been invested in helping the COVID 19 situation?
Answer: An independent auditor team has been set up to find out the same.