Why PM CARES Fund is not subject to public audit or covered under RTI, asks Congress  

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Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

Congress MP Abhishek Manu Singhvi.
| Photo Credit: PTI

Alleging that the PM CARES Fund is shrouded in secrecy, the Congress on April 25 asked why it has no transparency, accountability and is not subjected to any audit or covered under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, despite 60% of its funds coming from public sector undertakings (PSUs).

At a press conference at the All India Congress Committee (AICC) headquarters, senior spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi said that a public fund that gets donations to the tune of ₹5,000 crore should come under the ambit of RTI and show accountability.

“The controversies surrounding the PM CARES Fund prove that it was set up by a highly uncaring government, by an uncaring ruling party and Prime Minister,” Mr. Singhvi said.

He pointed out that 60% of the total contribution to the PM CARES Fund comes from government-run and government-owned firms, including the ONGC, the NTPC and the IOC. “The ‘C’ in PM CARES stands for coercion, chaos, confusion and corruption,” Mr. Singhvi said.

“Can the government of a State raise large sums of money without any legislative sanction? But, here the highest executive office in the government is receiving ₹5,000 crore without any legal sanction… Where is the accountability, where is the tracking?” he asked.

Mr. Singhvi said the PM CARES Fund is a trust and one of the reasons why it is kept out of accountability parameters is on the grounds that it does not receive any budgetary support from the government. But government-owned/controlled Navratna and Mini Ratna PSUs are the principle donors.

“After six years, why have you not come out with a White Paper on it? Where is the money being spent, why don’t you tell the world what is the criterion being adopted for deployment of funds? Why is it not disclosed? If you divert any amount of money, is it not a cruel joke on the taxpayer? We should get answers,” Mr. Singhvi said.

On April 24, Congress President Mallikarjun Kharge had tweeted that the lack of scrutiny on the PM CARES Fund amounted to “An EPIDEMIC of LOOT during ADVERSITY by Modi Govt”.

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