Does the PM really care about the PM Cares fund?
In our previous article(https://www.inventiva.co.in/stories/nandini/coronavirus-relief-donations-a-new-way-to-run-the-country-of-1-3-billion/), we have shown a great level of dismay with the setting up of this fund. Now, twenty days have passed with that and let’s look at the developments which have happened with that fund:
- Millions of migrant workers are being harassed in the most painful way during this lockdown. It has forced them to come out on the streets and break all the norms of social distancing. Where is the money in the fund going if the PM can’t curb the hunger of the people?
- Doctors are considered to be the warriors in this fight with the virus. But with lack of protection, these warriors might just end themselves in the battle field. ‘Asking a health care professional to work without protective equipment is like asking a soldier to go on border for a fight without a gun,” said Manu Gautam, national president of the United Resident and Doctors’ Association. Doctors who are posted in the major cities of the country have complained about the dearth of the medical equipment and that the arrangements made for their well-being aren’t up to the mark.
- Harassment during the time of a pandemic isn’t cool. On March 28, Kolkata-based oncologist, Indranil Khan received images of doctors wearing raincoats in the COVID-19 ward of a government hospital. He shared them on twitter and the government tweeted back saying appropriate actions will be taken for this situation. Within two hours of that assurance, Khan was detained by police for questioning. This isn’t the right time to do all this. We need to move together and use our donations in a way that the people are happy and not being dragged to the jails.
Now we would be talking about the elephant in the room, major use of the PM Cares fund which is actually like a black hole.
Modi government has pointed to several features which set apart the new fund from the old. Some of them include the provision for a 10-member advisory board and non-inclusion of the Congress party president in the PM CARES fund.
This trust/ fund can only be audited (checked) if the trustees want that to happen. Now who are the trustees? The favourites of the PM CARES trust, formed by the cabinet on March 28, has Prime Minister Narendra Modi as its chairperson and senior cabinet members as trustees.
PM CARES Fund will be audited by “independent auditors who will be appointed by the trustees”.
“Since the fund is based on donations of individuals and organisations, we have no right to audit the charitable organisation,” sources in the CAG offices said.
Official documents show the PM-CARES and the PMNRF are similar in one crucial regard: both funds do not disclose the identities of all their donors and beneficiaries despite managing thousands of crores of public money so they can not be audited.
So the question arises, what is the whole scene about? When the WHO can get its funds audited by the CAG, why is our PM acting fishy and not being transparent.
PMNRF website shows a total balance of Rs 3800.44 crores, media reports about the PM-CARES fund cite only publicly declared donations to show that it had amassed Rs 6500 crores within a week of being set up.
Looking at the financial side, funds in a public account result in net gains to the government on account of the interest rate difference between what it pays on its domestic borrowings and the interest it is able to earn on the amount lying unspent in such funds. For instance, the PMNRF alone has an accumulated unspent balance of Rs 3,800 crore as on 3March 31, 2019, which at a modest arbitrage of 2% would yield Rs 76 crore per annum. Here is the whole scenario decoded. One must be educated and must have enough knowledge before getting themselves into something like this.
Where is this money going? Is it going back to the rich to keep them happy and keep their mouths closed?
Under the name of “private trust”, the publics fund is being used to keep some people happy while the rest die in hunger.