Why count corporate donations to PM Cares under CSR if fund privately established: P Chidambaram

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Updated: Aug 21, 2020 1:20 PM

P Chidambaram asked why were the Prime Minister and three ministers serving as trustees in the PM Cares fund if it was not set up by the central government.

P Chidambaram accuses the BJP of shielding the PM Cares fund from scrutiny.

Senior Congress leader and former Union minister P Chidambaram has fired a fresh salvo at the Modi government over Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM Cares) fund days after the Supreme Court declined to pass an order to transfer the money collected under the fund to NDRF.

Chidambaram in a tweet asked why were the Prime Minister and three ministers serving as trustees in the PM Cares fund if it was not set up by the central government.

“Was the Fund set up by the Central government as concluded by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs? If not, who set up the Fund and in what capacity? If the Fund was not set up by the central government, why are the PM and three Ministers serving as Trustees? Who appointed them as Trustees?” he asked in a series of tweets.

“If the Fund is a private established fund, why are donations to the Fund counted against CSR? Will donations to other privately-established funds be also counted against CSR?” he asked.

The Supreme Court had on August 18 refused to pass an order regarding transfer of money from PM Cares to NDRF and also ruled that the fund is a public charitable trust and there cannot be an audit by the Comptroller & Auditor General of India.

Chidambaram also accused the BJP of shielding the fund from scrutiny. He asked why donations are counted against CSR if it is privately established. He further asked if donations to other privately-established funds will also be counted against CSR.

The Centre had in March set up the PM Cares to help generate funds to bolster the fight against coronavirus. The government had notified that contributions to the fund will be considered as part of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

“Who authorised MCA (Ministry of Corporate Affairs) to make a retrospective amendment to the Schedule to the Companies Act inserting the name of PM-CARES Fund in the Schedule?” he asked while referring to the ministry’s amendment to the norms allowing corporate contributions to qualify as CSR spending under the companies law.

“Will MCA insert the names of other privately-established funds in the said Schedule to the Companies Act? The retrospective amendment in favour of a privately established fund is obviously an act of favouritism and discriminatory. It will be challenged,” he said.

The Prime Minister is the ex-officio chairman of the PM Cares fund and Minister of Defence, Minister of Home Affairs and Minister of Finance are its ex-officio trustees.

Earlier this week, The Indian Express had reported that Maharatnas to navratnas, energy giants to power majors, 38 PSUs have contributed over Rs 2,105 crore of their Corporate Social Responsibility funds to the PM Cares since its launch on March 28.

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