The corpus of the PM-CARES on March 31, 2021, stood at Rs 10,990 crore since the time the fund was started on March 27, 2020. Of this, the audited financial statement for the year showed that it had disbursed only Rs 3,976 crore of this, or a little over 36%. The fund, set up to receive donations during the COVID-19 pandemic, received flak as it was formed as a trust and is not a Government of India fund, and hence did not come under the Right to Information Act and neither was it part of the Consolidated Fund of India.
The trust was formed on March 27 and is headed by the Prime Minister. The other ex-officio members of the trust are the defence minister, the home minister and the finance minister. The overall contribution to the fund received in 2019-20 was Rs 3,076.62 crore which was collected in just five days of its formation on March 27, 2020, with an initial corpus of Rs 2.25 lakh.
A total of Rs 3,976.17 crore was dispersed by the fund, according to the audited statement prepared by chartered accountants SARC and associates. The disbursal included Rs 1,000 crore for migrant welfare and over Rs 1,392 crore for procurement of COVID-19 vaccine doses. The fund recorded nearly Rs 494.91 crore as foreign contributions and over Rs 7,183 crore as voluntary contributions during the fiscal.
According to the statement, it disbursed Rs 1,311 crore for 50,000 ventilators to government hospitals, Rs 50 crore for the establishment of two 500-bed COVID hospitals in Muzaffarpur and Patna, and 16 RT-PCR testing labs in nine states. Further, Rs 201.58 crore was spent on oxygen plants at public health facilities, while Rs 20.4 crore was disbursed for the upgradation of labs working on COVID vaccines. Of the amount spent on procuring ventilators, several reports stated that these were faulty and did not work properly.
While Rs 1,000 crore was allotted to states and Union territories for the welfare of migrants, Rs 1,392.82 crore was spent on the procurement of 6.6 crore doses of COVID vaccines. The fund also spent Rs 1.01 lakh as bank charges.
The fund's closing balance as of March 31, 2021, stood at Rs 7,013.99 crore, more than double of Rs 3,076.62 crore a year ago.
According to details posted on the website, it consists "entirely of voluntary contributions from individuals/organisations and does not get any budgetary support". Opposition parties have criticised the PM CARES fund, alleging its contributions and expenses are not transparent. After the audited statement to 2021-22 was put out, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi responded with "PM Lies".
The chairperson of the fund has the power to nominate three trustees to the board of trustees, who can be eminent persons in the field of research, health, science, social work, law, public administration and philanthropy. Also, any person appointed as a trustee will act in a pro bono capacity.
The Union government had said in a press release in May 2020 that funds from PM-CARES would be allocated for vaccine development.
On May 13, 2020, a press release from the Prime Ministerâ€™s Office had said funds would be allotted as a â€śhelping handâ€ť for vaccine development, which was to be utilised under the supervision of the Principal Scientific Advisor. The audited statement, however, does not show any such allotment.
With PTI inputs