Created on March 28, 2020, Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund or PM CARES Fund was set up to have a dedicated national fund to deal with any emergency and provide relief to the distressed.
According to the PM CARES Fund website, there are three objectives behind the relief fund.
1. To support assistance to health emergencies, upgrading the healthcare sector, or funding any relevant research.
2. To provide grants or take such other steps deemed fit by the Board of Trustees to the affected. The Board of Trustees are Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs Amit Shah and Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman.
3. To undertake any other activity, which is not inconsistent with the above objectives.
Even though the government has not revealed the official details of the fund, it informs that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is the ex-officio chairman while Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs, and Minister of Finance are the ex-officio trustees.
The Prime Minister has the power to nominate the trustees who will be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration, and philanthropy.
The fund is fully based on voluntary contributions from people or organisations and has no place in the Union Budget. The donations made to PM CARES Fund are tax-exempted under 80G benefits and also qualify as Corporate Social Responsibility expenditure under the Companies Act, 2013.
A separate account has been also opened for receiving contributions from individuals and organisations based out of India.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PM CARES FUND AND PM RELIEF FUND?
Prime Minister National Relief Fund or PMNRF was established in January 1948 by the first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru. PMNRF has been attached with all Centre and State-run hospitals and many private hospitals as well. The PM CARES Fund was founded in 2020 by current Prime Minister Modi. There is no clarity on its network with hospitals.
The fund has received much criticism since it was established as it lacks transparency with its functioning and accounts. The government yet to publicly disclose the total fund generated and the names of donors as it refuses to call it a public authority for the laws such as the Right to Information Act, 2005.