PSEs have contributed Rs 2,913 crore to the PM CARES Fund

Between 2019-20 and 2021-22, government-run listed companies paid at least Rs 2,913.6 crore to the contentious Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund.


  • The PM CARES Fund was established on March 28, 2020, in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in India.
  • The fund will be utilised for future combat, containment, and relief activities against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic-like scenarios.
  • The PM serves as the trust’s chairman. Members will include the defence, home, and finance ministries, and micro-donations will be accepted. The minimum donation allowed is ten dollars.

Issues over PM-CARES Fund

  • No stated purpose: It is purposefully disregarded while a new, disputed, unanswerable, and ‘non-accountable vehicle is developed; its character remains unknown to this day.
  • Unaccountable: The government appears to regard statutory procedures for inquiry and information gathering as inconvenient impediments.
  • Donation centralization: It centralises the collection of donations and their utility, which is not only contrary to the federal character but also inconvenient. The trusteeship of the money appears to be the issue.


Unanswered questions and gaps

  • Law/statute: Neither the Indian Constitution nor any statute established the PM CARES Fund.
  • Authority: If that is the case, under what authority does it use the Prime Minister’s designation, designated national symbols, the tricolour, and the PMO’s official ( website, and offer tax breaks through an ordinance?
  • Collection and disbursement: The Fund’s receipts do not go to the Consolidated Fund of India. If it gets to the CFI, the CAG may have audited it.
  • Uncontrolled: This Trust is not intended to be, nor is it owned, controlled, or substantially financed by any government entity, even if it is chaired by the Prime Minister.

Concerns about tax breaks

  • Income tax: An ordinance was passed to amend the Income Tax Act of 1961, stating that donations to the PM CARES Fund “would qualify for 80G benefits for 100% exemption.”
  • CSR Funds: Under the Companies Act of 2013, it will also be eligible for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) expenditure.
  • Foreign contributions: It has also been exempted from the FCRA [Foreign Contribution Regulation Act], and a separate account for receiving foreign contributions has been established.

What can be deduced from all of this?

  • The Centre now regards it as yet another impediment and has established a fresh trust with the Prime Minister and his Ministers solely.
  • The method in which the PM CARES Fund was established — with its acronym intended to publicise the point that the PM cares for people — demonstrates a circumvention of a public authority’s legislative requirements.

Again, irony reigns supreme.

  • Following early denials, the government has admitted that it is a public charity trust, but insists that it is not a “public authority.” The problem is that the PMO operates the Fund but refuses to provide any information about it because it is not a public authority.

Severe interpretations: Is it a profit-making office?

If the PM CARES Fund is not linked to the government, it may become a for-profit entity.And this could render him and the three Ministers ineligible to occupy those constitutional offices.

@the end

  • To maintain transparency, the PM CARES Fund should be designated as a Public Authority under the RTI Act, and all RTI requests should be answered accurately.
  • The fund should be classified as a “public authority” under RTI Act Section 2(h).
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