Mysterious coffers: PM CARES fund received Rs 10,990 crore, but only spent Rs 3,976 crore!

With its flawed transparency, the PM Cares fund has spurred more mystery towards its coffers with the latest financial statement revealing that not even 50% of the total fund received had been spent. PM CARES fund (Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund) was formed on March 27, 2020, and ever since it was formed in the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, it has been surfaced with nationwide concerns over its handling and accountability.

The corpus fund was created in a way that it can skip the RTI Act and it was registered not as a government body, but has been using India's national emblem. As of March 31, 2021, the corpus fund of PM CARES stood at Rs 10,990 crore and of this, the audited financial statement for the year showed that it had disbursed only Rs 3,976 crore or around 36% of the total fund received in the coffers, directly managed by Prime Minister with Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Home Minister Amit Shah, and Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman being the members of the fund. 

The main aim of the formation of the fund was to receive donations from across the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic and it was registered as a trust. The overall contribution to the fund received in 2019-20 was Rs 3,076.62 crore which was collected in five days of its formation on March 27, 2020. The fund has received nearly Rs 494.91 crore as foreign contributions and over Rs 7,183 crore as voluntary contributions. 

According to reports, a total of Rs 3,976.17 crore was disbursed by the fund, according to the audited statement prepared by chartered accountants SARC and associates. The fund that was disbursed include Rs 1,000 crore for migrant welfare and over Rs 1,392 crore for procurement of Covid-19 vaccine doses. The financial statement further said that the fund has disbursed Rs 1,311 crore for 50,000 ventilators to government hospitals, Rs 50 crore for the establishment of two 500-bed Covid hospitals. 

These hospitals were established in Muzaffarpur and Patna and along with that, it was also used to setting up 16 RT-PCR testing labs in nine states. Rs 201.58 crore was spent on oxygen plants at public health facilities while Rs 20.4 crore was disbursed for the enhancement of labs working on Covid vaccines. It was reported that of the total amount spent on procuring ventilators, these ventilators didn't work properly.  

The fund has allotted Rs 1,000 crore to the states and Union territories for the welfare of migrants and Rs 1,392.82 crore was spent on the procurement of 6.6 crore doses of Covid vaccines. The fund has 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 which was more than double Rs 3,076.62 crore a year ago. 

As the audited financial statement of the PM CARES fund had drawn huge national attention, several leaders had lashed out at the fund over its flawed transparency and not providing assistance to the states that were in need. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has responded to the financial statement and said, "PM Lies."