What is the need of PM-CARES? Opposition debates in Lok Sabha
Opposition leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury criticised the government on Saturday in the Lower House regarding the setting up of the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund questioning the government over the need of it when there was an existing Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF).
The Congress lawmaker, while debating the Taxation and Other Laws (Relaxation and Amendment of Certain Provisions) Bill, 2020 in Parliament, said, “I want to ask our finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman what is the need for creating a parallel fund when we already have PMNRF?”
Chowdhury further questioned the government asking if they had taken loans from Chinese banks amid the standoff at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. The Congress MP from Bengal said, “I also want to ask our FM if it’s true that you took a loan from Chinese banks even after our Indian Army personnel were fighting in the Galwan valley. How much loan has been taken from China since April?”
A day after his comment and the uproar over it led to several adjournments in the Lok Sabha, Union minister Anurag Thakur lashed out at the opposition and said unlike the PMNRF, the PM CARES is a registered trust. He targeted the Congress and said that one ‘family’ manages the trusts.
Thakur said, “The first Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru constituted PMNRF in 1948. PMNRF is still not registered. The members of the trust were Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and the President of Indian National Congress and a nominee of Tata Trust.”
Drawing comparisons between the PMNRF and PM CARES, he said, “The PM-CARES fund was registered on March 27, 2020, under the 1908 Act. An independent auditor was appointed. Nobody is forced to donate to this fund. The members of the trust are all ex officio members such as Prime Minister, minister of defence, minister of home affairs and minister of finance”
Congress has targeted the government on the issue of PM CARES even before the Monsoon Session began. On September 13, Congress MP Jairam Ramesh cited the lack of transparency in the PM CARES fund in a virtual press conference.
N K Premachandran, a lawmaker from Kerala’s Revolutionary Socialist Party, said he does not understand the necessity of the PM CARES fund. “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,” he said.
Congress’ Manickam Tagore said that the PM CARES lacks transparency. The Tamil Nadu lawmaker questioned why the trust was outside the ambit of the Comptroller Auditor General of India and Parliament.
Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra also highlighted that since 38 public sector companies donated Rs 2,100 crore to the fund, which makes 70% of the corpus, the government should be answerable to the people of the nation. She also questioned the government why they had not returned the money donated by Chinese firms like TikTok to the PM CARES.
(with inputs from Agencies)