Trustees of the Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund have appointed SARC & Associates as auditor of the fund.
Its website pmcares.gov.in says trustees of the fund, which is called Prime Minister’s Citizens Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, appointed “SARC & Associates, Chartered Accountants, New Delhi, as the auditors” for three years.
The Firm is headed by Sunil Kumar Gupta, which audits the PM National Relief Fund.
The updated FAQs on the PMO website now say that trustees of the Fund during the second meeting held on April 23, 2020, decided to appoint M/s SARC Associates, Chartered Accountants, New Delhi as the auditors of PM CARES Fund for 3 years.
The fund is administered on an honorary basis by a joint secretary (administration) in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) who is secretary to the fund. He is assisted on an honorary basis by an officer of the rank of director/deputy secretary (administration) in the PMO, the FAQs state.
The PMO provides administrative and secretarial support to the trustees for management and administration of the trust, as may be required by the trustees. The head office of the fund is The PMO, South Block, New Delhi, the FAQs state.
The FAQs also add that, so far, Rs 3,100 crore has been allocated from the fund Rs 2,000 crore for supply of 50,000 ‘Made-in India’ ventilators to government hospitals run by the Centre, or states and union territories, Rs 1,000 crore for the care of migrant laborers and Rs 100 crore for vaccine development.
“There is no transaction charge levied by PM CARES Fund for online payment. However some banks may levy the net-banking transaction charges, which may vary from bank to bank,” FAQs clarified.
“PM CARES Fund has received an exemption from the operation of all provisions of the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010. Foreign Donation is accepted from individuals and organizations based in Foreign countries through Foreign Credit / Debit Cards and also through Wire Transfer/SWIFT following the link on the Home page of PM CARES Fund portal,” the FAQs said.
Charitable trusts get income tax exemption and therefore need to get audited by a chartered accountant and report to the tax department. Over the last few years, the department has tightened the rules governing charitable trusts to ensure that funds received are used for intended objectives and to boost compliance. The department has also stepped up disclosure requirements of trust in the audit reports.
The Opposition parties have questioned how the PM CARES Fund is being kept out of the audit purview of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG). The government has maintained that the fund will be audited by an “independent auditor”.
However, as news of the trustees having appointed Gupta’s firm as its auditor became public, some in the opposition parties claimed that he is close to the top BJP leadership. The updated FAQs state that “there is no statutory period prescribed for an audit of the PM CARES under the Income Tax Act. However, an audit will be conducted at the end of the financial year.”
The Delhi High Court has a petition filed before it seeking that the fund is declared a public authority under the Right to Information Act. This was after the PMO refused to answer RTI queries about the fund. The government has opposed the petition on the basis of maintainability. The matter will be heard in August.