There is a clear absence of transparency in every aspect of PM-CARES. Neither details of donors and amounts received nor details of expenditures incurred are in the public domain
NEW DELHI – The PM-CARES Fund of Central government continues to face a credibility crisis. Now, a group of 100 former civil servants have written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising questions over the transparency of the fund.
“We have been keenly following the ongoing debate about the Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations, or ‘PM-CARES’ — a fund created for the benefit of people affected by the COVID pandemic. Both the purpose for which it has been created as well as the way it has been administered have left a number of questions unanswered,” they said in the letter made public on Saturday.
The letter was signed by former IAS officers Anita Agnihotri, S.P. Ambrose, Sharad Behar, Sajjad Hassan, Harsh Mander, P Joy Oommen, Aruna Roy, former diplomats Madhu Bhaduri, K.P. Fabian, Deb Mukharji, Sujatha Singh and former IPS officers A.S. Dulat, P.G.J Nampoothiri and Julio Ribeiro among others.
They said it is necessary that, for reasons of probity and adherence to standards of public accountability, the financial details of receipts and expenditures be made available in order to avoid doubts of wrongdoing.
“It is essential that the position and stature of the Prime Minister is kept intact by ensuring total transparency in all dealings the Prime Minister is associated with,” they said.
In March last year, the Centre set up the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM-CARES) Fund with the primary objective to deal with any kind of emergency situation like the one currently posed by the COVID-19 outbreak and provide relief to those affected.
“There is a clear absence of transparency in every aspect of PM-CARES. Neither details of donors and amounts received nor details of expenditures incurred are in the public domain. This opacity is disturbing as the state governments handling the COVID-19 challenge were, and continue to be, sorely in need of financial assistance,” they said.
The group also raised questions on the huge amount of funds coming from the public sector when the trust deed of PM-CARES says that it is not “controlled or substantially financed by any government or any instrumentality of the government”. The bureaucrats asked why Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged embassies to seek funds from abroad.