on 16th May 2014, India was changed forever on many fronts, the UPA regime was defeated and Narendra Modi secured an unprecedented victory. Though this was a democratic process and it remains in hands of voters to choose the best candidate, who can govern the nation. But the opposition was never able to digest this bitter loss and that is reflected in their frustration, at least that is what we are witnessing for last 7 years now.
Opposition always comes with new issues, and sometimes they even raise non-issues to counter the Government and PM Modi. Since the COVID has struck us last year, their favorite topic is PM Cares Fund.
On 27th March 2020, PM Modi announced the creation of The Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund (PM CARES Fund), following the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. The purpose of the PM Cares fund is for combating, and containment, and relief efforts against the coronavirus outbreak and similar pandemic-like situations in the future.
However, the opposition parties and especially the Congress party took it as another opportunity to corner the government. They raised the issue of non-transparency of the PM Cares fund, they question the constitution of this fund, the founding members, donators of this fund. The issue was raised in parliament, where Congress questioned and criticized the manner in which the Union government has been withholding information about the Fund, which is meant to be spent on pandemic relief, while at the same time allowing donations from multiple sources, including those from abroad, into the corpus.
Congress questioned the government over the need of such a parallel fund, that in a private trust-like fund when there is an existing Prime Minister National Relief Fund (PMNRF). They claimed that this fund has been created to conceal the donations of private persons and corporates.
However, from the day one, PM Modi and the Government were in a view that money should be collected an used for public welfare, and once the financial year is completed, the audit will be conducted and every concern or question will be addressed in due course.
PM Cares fund – Does Audit happen?
Well, that is the biggest question and opposition runs huge propaganda on this question. The answer is simple, Yes the audit was conducted and results were released as well.
On 23rd April 2020, the trustees of the PM Cares fund decided to appoint M/s SARC Associates, Chartered Accountants, New Delhi as the auditors of PM CARES Fund for 3 years. This firm released the audit report on 2nd September 2020, and that report revealed that the emergency fund has a balance of Rs 30,76,62,56,047. The report informed that Rs 3076 crores were received till March 31, 2020.
Though, Congress raised questions about the funding from 1st April 2020 onwards. But that question was illogical, as an audit of funds between the period of 1st April 2020 – 31st March 2021 is currently under process, and we can expect the audit reports in a couple of months. Here it is important to note that the government at multiple junctures has informed what is the expenditure made from the PM cares fund.
In this article, we would like to present some facts about the PM cares fund, the fund released by the Government in lieu of various COVID related expenses in last one year, which will help you to understand the kind of usage we have seen for this fund.
PM Cares Fund spent on the following
We have listed all the significant spending made by using PM Cares fund in last one year.
It was started with Rs. 3,076 Crores, which were allocated for the following and are mentioned on the PM cares website. Rs. 2,000 Crores were spent to purchase Ventilators, Rs. 1,000 Crores allocated for Migrant worker welfare, and Rs. 100 Crore for vaccine development.
The government made an allocation of Rs. 35,000 Crores vaccine package was for financial year 2021-22 in Union Budget. However, for the vaccination of 3 Crore Frontline workers between January to March 2021, Rs. 2,700 Crores were spent of which Rs. 2,200 Crore were given by PM cares fund.
On 15th January 2021, the Modi Government provided much-needed assistance to the State Governments when it released Rs. 6,309 crores to states for Covid Preparedness. This is part of the Covid Emergency response package, which is worth Rs. 15,000 Crores.
The government was in view that States must be provided with more support, as far as medicines, surgical items, and other protection gears were concerned. It initiated the procurement of N95 Masks, PPE coverall & Ventilators, and spent a total of Rs. 5,022 crores on the same from PM Cares fund. The government spent Rs. 70 crores to procure and supply 11.15 Crore hydroxychloroquine tablets to all states.
Contrary to the perception made by the opposition and the media, Modi Government understood the importance of oxygen supply and did spend Rs. 201 crores for procurement of 162 PSA oxygen plants. The total PSA sanctioned as of date stands at 713. An additional 500 PSA oxygen plants were sanctioned last month and the total expense incurred for this is approximately Rs. 1,500 Crores, again from the PM Cares fund.
Recently, the government has put a purchase order to procure 1,50,000 units of Oxycare systems from DRDO at a cost of Rs. 322.5 Crores. apart from that huge number of Temporary Covid care centers built by the central government, all from PM Cares fund.
Modi Government also ordered 1 Lakh oxygen concentrators, 23 Oxygen generators from Germany, and procured 1,02,400 Oxygen cylinders & cryogenic containers from abroad. The total expense incurred for these emergency imports during the 2nd wave is yet to be disclosed.
One of the biggest steps was taken to provide an insurance cover to 22.14 Lakh health workers under the insurance scheme launched on 30.03.2020. Even if a modest amount of Rs. 3,000 per Annum is taken as premium per person, Rs. 1,328 Crores is paid as a premium in the last two years.
The number of donations received from Private companies and individual contributors will only be known once the audited financial statement is released. However, as far as expenditure is concerned, the total expense stands at Rs. 17,469 Crores, which is already available in the public domain. Though if we add the recent expenses on Oxygen plants, Oxygen Concentrators, and Cryogenic Tankers, then it must be more than Rs. 20,000 Crores.
We can say that opposition may raise numerous questions on PM cares fund, but the truth is that Government has taken a logical step to create a separate fund for such emergency situations. We have also seen that the government is utilizing this fund for the welfare of the public and improving the healthcare infrastructure like never before. The rest of the doubts will be cleared once we will get the final audit report in a couple of months.