Why PM CARES not subjected to any audit or RTI: Cong questions Centre

Singhvi said if the Congress comes to power, they would conduct a CAG audit of the PM CARES Fund, which he dubbed as a "fraud and a farce".

New Delhi: The Congress on Tuesday alleged that the PM CARES Fund is shrouded in secrecy and demanded answers on why it has no transparency or accountability and is not subjected to any audit or RTI even though 60 per cent of its funds are received from public sector companies.

Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi demanded more transparency and accountability in the Fund, which gets donations to the tune of Rs 5,000 crore, and said it should be submitted to Right to Information (RTI) and supported by legal sanctity.

He alleged that the Fund, which has received nearly 60 per cent of the funds from public sector undertakings with major government holding, is in violation of constitutional norms as the top office of the country is “collecting money” without any legal sanction.

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“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. Sixty per cent of the total contribution to PM CARES comes from government-run and government-owned firms, including ONGC, NTPC, IOC. The ‘C’ in PM CARES stands for coercion, chaos, confusion and corruption,” Singhvi said.

“Can the government of the state raise large sums of money without any legislative sanction? But, here the highest executive office in the government is receiving Rs 5,000 crore without any legal sanction… Where is the accountability, where is the tracking?” he told reporters at a press conference here.

Noting that there are issues which are vital and important in the matter, he said, “the transparency and audit is zero, there is a clear conflict of interest”.

“This is unacceptable and it is violative of constitutional principles,” he said.

Singhvi said the PM CARES is a trust and one of the reasons why it is kept out of this accountability parameters is the ground that it does not receive any budgetary support from the government.

Look at the irony that like the CAG, RTI, government terms on the ground that there is no budgetary support and yet government-owned or controlled companies like the Navratna and Mini Ratna companies are the principle donors.

“This entire fund is shrouded in secrecy,” he alleged, asking why the fund is not disclosing who are its donors and on whom has the money been given to.

The Congress leader said the fund should voluntarily subject itself to scrutiny and the RTI and CAG audit should be conducted on it as public funds are going into it through the PSU companies.

“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,” Singhvi said.

He also claimed why the government has not taken support from the legislature to grant legal sanctity to the fund.

Noting that constitutional morality does not require morality of law, he said, “Why not subject voluntarily to CAG audit and what is there to hide?”

Singhvi said if the Congress comes to power, they would conduct a CAG audit of the PM CARES Fund, which he dubbed as a “fraud and a farce”.

He also noted that unfortunately, a division bench of the High Court had dealt with the matter and one of the learned judges, Justice Ravindra Bhatt, now in the Supreme Court held that this fund is subject to RTI. He, however, called upon the judiciary to come out with a clear verdict on the issue as public funds were involved.

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