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PM-CARES Got Rs. 3,076 Cr in 5 days; P Chidambaram says name donors

New Delhi: The PM-CARES fund for Covid received Rs. 3,076 crore in five days, according to an audit statement made public by the government. The statement, for the financial year 2020, only records donations between March 27 (when the fund was set up) and March 31.

Of this Rs. 3,076 crore, Rs. 3,075.85 crore came from domestic voluntary contribution and Rs. 39.67 lakh was foreign contribution. The statement says PM-CARES had an initial corpus of Rs. 2.25 lakh and the fund has also received an interest of around Rs. 35 lakh.

The audit statement has been uploaded on the PM-CARES fund website but the “accompanying notes 1 to 6” in the statement have not been made public. Which means, details of the domestic and foreign contributors or donors have also not been disclosed by the government.

Former Finance Minister Chidambaram questioned in tweets why the names of “these generous donors” were not revealed. “Why? Every other NGO or Trust is obliged to reveal the names of donors contributing more than a threshold amount. Why is the PM CARES FUND exempt from this obligation,” he asked

The senior Congress leader also tweeted: “The donee is known. The trustees of the donee are known. Why are the trustees afraid to reveal the names of the donors?”

Last month, the Supreme Court had said that the money collected under the PM-CARES Fund for the coronavirus pandemic need not be transferred to the National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF). It said that the funds collected by the PM-CARES Fund are those of charitable trusts and “entirely different”. The government is free to transfer money to the disaster response fund if it feels it is appropriate to do so, the top court said.

PM-CARES or the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund was set up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March to “deal with emergency or distress situations like the coronavirus pandemic”. It is managed by a trust with PM Modi as its chairperson and senior cabinet members as trustees.

In June, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) rejected an RTI application filed by a private news channel seeking details of the PM-CARES Fund, including the trust deed, stating that the “Fund is not a public authority under RTI Act”.

But the audit statement has been signed by PMO officials on behalf of PM-CARES.

Shrikar K Pardeshi, Joint Secretary in the PMO, has signed the audit statement on behalf of PM-CARES Fund as “Secretary” while Gujarat cadre IAS Officer Hardik Shah, the Private Secretary to PM Modi, has signed the statement as Deputy Secretary of the Fund.

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