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Written by - Akshatha Sajumon

March 3, 2022 6 minutes

The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Disaster Situations (PM CARES) Fund was formed in response to the need for a dedicated fund in the country to address any distress situation or emergency, such as the COVID-19 epidemic. Keeping in mind the objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected, a public charitable trust under the name of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund has been set up. This fund also accepts micro-donations, as a result of which, a large number of people will be able to contribute with smallest of denominations.

Following the COVID-19 epidemic in India, the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund) was established on March 27, 2020. The fund’s claimed objective is to battle, containment, and relief operations against future coronavirus outbreaks and comparable pandemic-like events. Although the documentation for the fund’s constitution has not been made public, the Government of India has stated that the fund’s chairman is Prime Minister NarendraModi, and trustees include the Ministers of Defence, Rajnath Singh, Home Affairs, Amit Shah, and Finance, NirmalaSitharaman, in the Government of India

The actual amount of monies contributed, as well as the identities of donors, have not been made public, and the fund is privately audited. Even though the Fund uses government infrastructure and the Government of India’s national emblem, the Government of India initially claimed that the fund is a private fund and denied that the PM CARES Fund is a public fund for the purposes of transparency laws such as the Right to Information Act 2005. The PM CARES Fund has been chastised for a lack of openness and accountability in its formation, operation, and accounting. [4] [5] The Government of India modified its stance in December 2020, admitting that the PM CARES Fund was a public fund but still refusing to divulge its details.

The PM CARES Fund has been established as a Public Charitable Trust.  Documents released by the Government of India in December 2020, following a sustained campaign for transparency regarding the Fund, reveal that the Trust Deed establishing the Fund describes it as a private trust, stating that “the trust is neither intended to be nor is in fact owned, controlled, or substantially financed by any government or any instrumentality of the government.”  A few weeks later, the Government of India disputed this position, admitting in an official answer to an RTI query that the Fund was “owned, controlled, and founded by the Government of India.”

The Indian government has consistently refused to provide information about the Fund under India’s openness law, the Right to Information Act 2005, which applies to all public organisations, claiming that it is not a public body.  Following multiple declarations from the Government of India that the PM CARES Fund was a private organisation rather than a public fund, an application was filed in December 2020 to challenge the use of the Indian national insignia in the Fund’s documents. The application sought prosecution under the State Insignia of India (Prohibition of Improper Utilize) Act, 2005, for utilising the national emblem in the PM CARES Fund documents, as it is prohibited to use the national emblem for private organisations. 

It was established to give assistance to those who have been affected by the country’s emergency or crisis situation. 

The PM CARES Fund’s Objectives

  • To support and provide aid or relief in the event of a natural or man-made disaster or hardship, public health, or any other type of emergency.
  • The money can be used to upgrade or build pharmaceutical or healthcare facilities, fund relevant research, build any required infrastructure, or provide any other form of assistance.
  • The fund’s Board of Trustees may provide financial grants, give financial assistance, or take other actions in support of the afflicted people as considered necessary.
  • To engage in any other activity that is not incompatible with the above-mentioned goals.

Constitution of the PM Cares Fund

The PM CARES Fund was established by the Prime Minister.Ex-officio Chairman of the PM CARES Fund is India’s Prime Minister (PM). Ex-officio Trustees of the Fund are India’s Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Defense, and Minister of Finance.The PM, as Chairman of the Board of Trustees, has the authority to appoint three trustees to the Board. They must be experts in research, science, health, social work, government administration, law, and philanthropy.

Payment Modes Via Which Donations can be Made To PM CARES Trust

The PM CARES Fund accepts voluntary contributions from organisations and individuals, as well as contributions from companies and public sector undertakings as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) (PSUs). Contributions derived from PSU budgetary sources, on the other hand, are not accepted. The following means of contribution to the PM CARES Funds are available: Internet banking (through SBI Net Banking and other commercial Banks). Payments by credit card (SBI ATM-cum-Debit Card, Credit Card, Other Bank Debit Cards, Foreign Card or Prepaid Card) Other payment options include SBI branches and RTGS/NEFT. On the PM CARES Fund’s specific portal as well as the PMO portal, contributions may be made online. Contributions can also be made using the collecting banks’ websites. Contributions are accepted in the form of drawings.

Benefits of making a donation to PM Cares Fund

The PM Cares fund is exclusively funded by voluntary contributions from businesses and people, and it receives no government funding. It is a charitable fund to which individuals give in order to support and provide aid for persons in distress or during catastrophes. The contributions are exclusively used to achieve the above-mentioned goals. Donations to the PM CARES Fund are eligible for 100% tax exemption under Section 80G of the Income Tax Act of 1961. Under the Companies Act of 2013, they are also eligible to be recorded as CSR spending.

The Foreign Contribution Regulation Act, 2010, exempts donations made to the PM CARES Fund, and a separate account for receiving foreign donations has been established. As a result, the PM CARES Fund can receive contributions and donations from international organisations and individuals. A total of Rs.3076.62 crore was collected under the PM CARES Fund in the fiscal year 2019-20, which runs from 27 March to 31 March 2020.

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