Letter to the Prime Minister

To

Shri Narendra Modiji
Prime Minister of India

Dear Shri Modiji,

I refer to my letters dated 9-4-2020 & 5-5-2020 (enclosed) on the modalities of creating the PM CARES Fund (hereafter referred as PMCARES) and the need to ensure utmost transparency in its utilisation.

I understand that the Trustees of PMCARES under your stewardship have since decided to entrust the audit of the Fund to SARC Associates, a private audit firm.

Considering the fact that the Fund has received substantial contributions from the employees of several government departments, from several PSUs and the employees of the PSUs, I feel that, in the interest of upholding the spirit of transparency, PMCARES should have voluntarily requested the office of the Comptroller & Auditor General of India (CAG) to audit its accounts. I feel disappointed that a body headed by no less than the Prime Minister himself should shy away from entrusting its audit to the CAG!

In my view, the Fund’s operations attract the provisions of the Right to Information Act (RTIA). However, the Fund’s website fails to disclose the details of the donors, their contributions and the purposes for which the amounts received so far have been utilised. I further feel that in pursuance of the Comptroller and Auditor General’s (Duties, Powers and Conditions of Service) Amendment ACT, 1971, it is incumbent on the part of CAG to undertake the audit of PMCARES and submit its report to the Parliament. I have enclosed here a copy of my letter dated 24-6-2020 addressed to the CAG on the subject.

As I have explained to the CAG, I am not sure whether the Trustees of PMCARES have followed a transparent procedure in selecting its auditor. SARC Associates may have a conflict of interest in auditing the accounts of PM CARES Fund for the reasons stated by me to the CAG.

In this connection, it is relevant to refer here to a statement made by Shri J P Nadda, the BJP National President on 27-6-2020 (https://indusscrolls.com/india-wants-to-know-why-the-accounts-of-rajiv-gandhi-foundation-refused-for-the-cag-auditing-jp-nadda/) on the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation. He emphatically said, ““People of India want to know why the Rajiv Gandhi Foundation (RGF) refused for the CAG auditing? Why was RTI not applicable to the foundation?” What Shri Nadda has rightly said about the RGF should also apply equally to PM CARES Fund and PM’s National Relief Fund, as none of these establishments can be considered to be outside the realm of public accountability. For the same reason, I feel that the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund in each State should also be subject to CAG audit.

Mr Prime Minister, you have been rightly advocating the need to improve the tone of governance on all fronts. It will be in line with that approach to revisit the manner in which PM CARES Fund will be operated and how it is going to be audited. It will be in furtherance of the concept of public accountability if PM CARES Fund submits itself to the requirements of the right to information and subjects itself to audit by the CAG.

I am sure that you will appreciate the spirit in which I am reiterating my appeal to you and agree to the Fund being audited by the CAG.

Regards,

Yours sincerely,

E A S Sarma
Former Secretary to GOI
Visakhapatnam


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