Unaudited PM CARES FUND lacks transparency, Moitra roars in LS

"I wish to ask the naked emperor- Where are your clothes?" said Moitra.

New Delhi: Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra launched a fierce attack over setting up the PM CARES Fund, on Saturday, in Lok Sabha saying it lacked transparency.

She said the PM CARES Fund is against public interest as it is not answerable to Parliament even though it collects funds from the public.

She said that 38 public sector companies contributed Rs 2,100 crore to the Fund. This is 70 per cent of the total corpus. It should therefore be answerable to Parliament.

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She also alleged that the Fund got money from Chinese firms like Tik Tok banned by India and wondered why the government did not return the donations from such companies.

“Prime Ministers will come and go, but the existence of a fund is not up for discussion? What is this need to name everything after one individual.

“First, you are raising a fund on the basis of a public office. By saying it is not open to RTI, you are running away from transparency,” Moitra said.

The Bill amends the provisions of the Income Tax Act to provide the same tax treatment to PM-CARES Fund as available to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

“The donation made to the PM CARES Fund shall be eligible for 100 per cent deduction under section 80G of the IT Act. Further, the limit on deduction of 10 per cent of gross income shall also not be applicable for donation made to PM CARES Fund,” an official statement had said.

Congress, DMK join the debate

Opposition parties Congress and DMK too opposed the setting up of the PM CARES Fund in Lok Sabha. The opposition members targeted the government on the issue of Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PMCARES) Fund, announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March so that people can contribute and help in the government’s fight against the coronavirus.

“I can’t understand the logic to have a separate fund. What is the difference between the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund and the PM CARES Fund,” said N K Premachandran (RSP), who initiated the debate on The Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020.

He alleged the PM CARES Fund “lacks transparency as it is not audited by Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). Further RTI is also not applicable”.

“The question of transparency and accountability is the main issue I want to highlight,” he said.

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