Doubts over PM Cares Fund: Govt not clear if it is govt fund or private entity

Time and again several leaders and activists have raised questions over the nature of entity of PM Cares Fund; is it a pvt fund or a govt one? Documents reveal that the govt itself seems unclear

Doubts over PM Cares Fund: Govt not clear if it is govt fund or private entity

NH Web Desk

PM Cares Fund has been defined by the government as a government trust for the purpose of corporate donations, but a clause in the trust documents calls it a private entity, which leaves it exempt from RTI scrutiny. This has raised questions over the Fund’s entity- whether it is a private or a public one.

According to a report in NDTV, PM-CARES trust has been registered with the revenue department of Delhi, with Prime Minister as chairperson and senior ministers as trustees. However, the trust deed made public recently on the fund's website does not define it as a government trust.

"The trust is neither intended to be or is in fact owned, controlled or substantially financed by any government or any instrumentality of the government. There is no control of either the central government or any state governments, either direct or indirect, in the functioning of the trust in any manner whatsoever,” says point 5.3 of the Deed.

Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund was set up by PM Modi in March to "deal with emergency or distress situations like the coronavirus pandemic".

PM Cares trust was registered on March 27. On March 28, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs issued an office memorandum qualifying PM-CARES as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative to receive corporate donations.

Companies Act defines eligibility for corporate donations as: "Contribution to the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund or any other fund set up by the Central Government or the State Governments for socio-economic development and relief and funds for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes, other backward classes, minorities and women."

Documents accessed by activist Anjali Bhardwaj through an RTI query reveal that the Ministry of Corporate Affairs, while issuing the March 28 Office Memorandum, defined PM-CARES as a "fund set up by the central government", reported NDTV.

However, the trust deed from a day before said it was not government-run, so PM-CARES could not have been eligible for corporate donations.

The contradiction went on until almost two months later, on May 26, the Corporate Affairs Ministry added PM-CARES Fund to the Companies Act retrospectively from March 28.

So for two months, PM-CARES was a private entity receiving corporate donations.

Former Finance minister and senior Congress leader P Chidambaram had also raised questions over the entity of PM Cares Fund in August and among several questions he had asked, “If the Fund was not set up by the central government, why are the PM and three Ministers serving as Trustees? Who appointed them as Trustees? If the Fund is a private established fund, why are donations to the Fund counted against CSR?”

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