Creating PM CARES Fund (Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) should not have been the priority when there exists a similar fund - the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF), CPI(M)’s Rajya Sabha member K.K. Ragesh wrote in response to Chairman Venkaiah Naidu’s plea to House members to allocate the MPLAD (Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) funds to the newly instituted fund.
Mr. Ragesh, in his two-page letter, has refused to contribute to the PM CARES fund pointing out that he had allocated ₹1 crore from his MPLAD funds to the Government Medical College, Pariyaram in Kannur, which is handling COVID-19 patients from Kannur and Kasaragod districts of Kerala.
‘Opposition not involved’
Mr. Ragesh pointed out that the PM CARES Fund, which has PM and three other Ministers as trustees did not have any member from the Opposition parties or the civil society.
He urged Mr. Naidu to ensure that the Union government increases its financial support to the cash-strapped State governments, hit by shrinkage of their resources, including the GST payment defaults by the Centre.
“Under these circumstances, given the federal principles of our Constitution, the amounts collected by this new fund should be transferred to the PMNRF and from there to the State governments for meeting the challenges of the pandemic and saving people’s lives,” he said.
Many celebrities, corporate houses and PSUs had declared hefty donations to the fund. Many government employees are also forwarding their one-day salary to the fund. “There is no mention of maintenance of accounts, their audit or on the answerability of the decisions taken by these four trustees. In short, there is no transparency and accountability,” Mr. Ragesh said.
So far, 69 Rajya Sabha members have agreed to contribute ₹1 crore from their MPLAD Fund to the PM CARES Fund, majority of them from the ruling benches.