Why in news?
The government has sent conflicting signals over the question of foreign donations to the new Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund, better known as PM-CARES.
Details of the Concerns
- Initially, Indian ambassadors were directed to mobilise donations from abroad, with SWIFT code details made available in order to accept such contributions.
- However, the Centre has now seemed to take a step back, indicating that foreign funds would be accepted only from individuals and foundations, with details for foreign donations unavailable for now.
- The PM-CARES fund also does not seem to have any website with details of objectives, income and expenditure as yet, raising concerns about transparency and accountability.
- Repeated queries on these issues sent to a senior official at the Prime Minister’s Office remain unanswered.
- PM-CARES is a public charitable trust launched on March 28 as a “dedicated national fund with the primary objective of dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like the one posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to provide relief to the affected,” according to the original press statement.
- The trust is chaired by the Prime Minister, and its members include the Ministers of Home, Finance and Defence.
- That original statement, as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first tweets on PM-CARES on March 28, included both an IFSC code, needed for domestic bank transfers, as well as a SWIFT code, needed for international bank transfers.
- However, the donation link on the PM’s website now says that “account details for foreign donations will be available in 2-3 days”. Only the IFSC code for domestic transfers is available on the donation link.
What was said about it?
- On March 30, Mr. Modi held a video conference with the heads of Indian diplomatic missions around the world to discuss responses to the pandemic.
- He advised them “to suitably publicise the newly-established PM-CARES Fund to mobilise donations from abroad,” according to a statement from the Ministry of External Affairs.
- Government sources now say that the “PM CARES fund will simply accept donations and contributions from individuals and organisations who are based in foreign countries.”