Congress leader P Chidambaram on Wednesday asked if those who donated more than Rs 3,000 crore in five days of March to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations, or PM-CARES, Fund were Chinese companies. He also asked the government to reveal the amount received by it since April 1 and the donors.
“Who are the donors who gave Rs 3076 crore in the first five days in March 2020?” Chidambaram tweeted. “Do they include Chinese firms? What is the amount received since April 1, 2020 and who are the donors?”
Relations between India and China have deteriorated following a clash between the armies of the two countries in Ladakh on June 15. Twenty Indian soldiers had died in the clash. There have been calls in India to boycott Chinese products.
The fund was set up by the government on March 28, to deal with emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic, and provide quick relief measures. The prime minister is the ex-officio chairperson of the fund and the defence, home and finance ministers are ex-officio trustees.
The Supreme Court had on August 18 rejected a plea to transfer the PM-CARES Fund to the National Disaster Relief Fund. While disposing of the petition, the court added that there was no need for a fresh national disaster relief plan for the pandemic.
Chidambaram said on Wednesday that the Supreme Court judgement will be “contested for a long time in academic circles”. “There are other aspects of PM-CARES FUND on which the Supreme Court had no occasion to pronounce judgement,” he tweeted. “These are transparency, disclosure and management practices concerning the Fund.”
The former finance minister asked what was the procedure to allocate money from the fund to combat the coronavirus. He also wanted to know which entities had received money from the fund since its inception.
Last month, the Centre told the top court that the PM-CARES Fund is a “public charitable trust” to which anyone can contribute. However, it has been argued that PM CARES is not subject to audit by the Comptroller and Auditor General but by private auditors.
Earlier on Wednesday, a report said the PM-CARES fund has received over Rs 2,105 crore from 38 government firms since March. The firms that have contributed to the fund include Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC), Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC), Airports Authority of India (AAI) and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Of these, ONGC (Rs 300 crore), NTPC (Rs 250 crore) and Indian Oil (Rs 225 crore) were the top three contributors.