PM Cares: Needs, Schemes And Concerns
The PM CARES (Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency) Fund
was set up on March28, 2020, keeping in mind the need for having a fund whose
primary objective is to deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation,
posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide relief to the affected people. As
evident by its name, the prime minister is the ex-officio chairman of the Fund
and the Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and the Finance Minister
of the Government of India are the ex-officio trustees of the fund.
The Prime Minister has the power to nominate three trustees to the Board who
shall be eminent people in the fields of research, social work, law, science,
health, public administration and philanthropy. The Fund is entirely dependent
upon the voluntary donations and contributions from the individuals and the
organisations and is barred from any budgetary support. The contributions made
to the Fund would qualify for 80G benefits for 100% exemption under the Income
Tax Act, 1961. The donation to the Fund shall be counted as Corporate Social
Responsibility expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013.
The limit on the deduction of 10% of gross income shall also not be applicable
for donation made to PM CARES Fund. The Fund has also been exempted under the
Foreign Contribution Regulation Act (FCRA) and a separate account for receiving
foreign donations has been opened which enables the Fund to accept the donations
from the organisations and individuals having a foreign base.
In the wake of the Corona Virus pandemic and the fiscal stress being faced
by India, the Fund could be of great help. The Fund is quite similar to the
Prime Minister's National Relief Fund in many ways as they were both set up to
achieve the common ends of mitigating the consequences of untold disasters and
consequent human fights to escape misery and destitution but the PM CARES Fund
is said to be more democratic as the power of decision making and deliberation
regarding disbursement of money and selection of beneficiaries has been
delegated to three other members of the government, who hold some other
The chairman himself is not the lone judge, jury and executioner in the
PM CARES Fund which makes it quite more democratic and increases the probability
of the help reaching out to a large number of sufferers.
The main objectives of the fund included undertaking and supporting relief or
providing assistance of various kinds relating to a health emergency, calamity
or distress which can either be natural or man-made; inclusive of the creation
and upgradation of medical facilities, promoting relevant researches and other
supports. The scheme also provides financial aid to the people in dire need.
The money has been used for arranging ventilators, testing kits and to avail
several other pharmaceutical facilities from inside and outside the country. The
donated money can be used for many other purposes which do not stand against the
already suggested objectives. The sole purpose of the fund might be said to be a
rescue operation to save the country from this pandemic that has eaten up
thousands of life and yet remains undefeated.
With the heavy load of financial stress and economic fall down that the nation
anticipates to face after the pandemic, the PM CARES Fund has given the
government a huge relief and a strong spine to fight against the pandemic. Soon
after the Prime Minister urged the people to donate in the PM CARES Fund, many
celebrities like Akshay Kumar came forward to help the country in the time of
need. Entrepreneurs, bollywood personalities, defence personals, political
leaders and even the common people of the nation took to donating money and
doing their part in the difficult time.
While the scheme can be said to be greatly helpful in fighting against the
pandemic but there still remain some matter of concerns that can not be
overlooked. One of the major concerns about the scheme is the transparency. The
government has not yet revealed the amount that has been contributed by the
citizens of the country. Neither is the public open to the sources where this
money is being spent. Creation of this fund also has an incoherence with article
266, 283 and 284 of the constitution.
Article 266 (2) states that all other money (other than consolidated and
contingency fund of India) received by or on behalf of the government shall be
entitled to the Public Account of India. It lacks constitutional explanation
and the government has still not addressed the concerns raised. This situation
is alarming as the fund is receiving huge donations and has already become a
target of fraud. People have lost their money because of fraudulent activities
like creation of similar name funds, similar websites etc.
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