Raising doubts on the authenticity of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's PM-CARES fund, former BJP leader and former Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha on Friday, April 24, sought an explanation over the auditing of the relief fund, which was created to support India's fight against the novel coronavirus.
Yashwant Sinha took to Twitter to express that he is shocked to learn that PM-CARES will not be inspected by Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG). He also indicated that the fund could follow the trajectory of electoral bonds. "Shocking news that C&AG will not audit PM CARES fund. It was opaque, to begin with. Is it going the way of electoral bonds? Now Bhagwan is Malik. Nothing is sacrosanct any more," he wrote.
Shocking news that C&AG will not audit PM CARES fund. It was opaque to begin with. Is it going the way of electoral bonds? Now Bhagwan is Malik. Nothing is sacrosanct any more.— Yashwant Sinha (@YashwantSinha) April 24, 2020
The concept of electoral bonds, which was introduced by the Centre as an alternative to cash donations to political parties, was mired in controversy when an ADR report suggested that the instrument is inaccurate and favored the ruling BJP government.
Who will audit PM-CARES?
As mentioned on its official website, PM-CARES will be audited by an independent set of auditors selected by the Trustees of the fund. "The PM-CARES fund will be audited by one or more qualified and independent auditor(s) who will be appointed by the Trustees," reads the website.
The Trustees of the newly structured relief fund include senior cabinet members - Minister of Defence Rajnath Singh, Minister of Home Affairs Amit, and Minister of Finance Nirmala Sitharaman. PM Modi is the chairperson of PM-CARES.
Opposition unhappy with PM-CARES
Previously, Congress and other opposition parties have questioned the creation of PM-CARES to aid the COVID-19 battle, arguing that the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is enough to receive donations and that there is no need for another fund. Congress President Sonia Gandhi even demanded the transfer of all the donations under PM-CARES to PMNRF to ensure "efficiency, transparency, accountability."
Notably, both PM-CARES and PMNRF are not subjected to audit by the CAG. They also do not reveal the identities of all their donors and beneficiaries.
The PM-CARES fund was formed on March 28 and it accepts tax-free donations by individuals or organizations as well as contributions under Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) from companies and Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs).
So far, the fund has accumulated thousands of crores as several prolific personalities and high-profile industrial groups have chipped in to help the Centre in facilitating the nationwide lockdown which has been imposed to flatten the COVID-19 curve.