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According to an analysis by IndiaSpend, at least Rs 9,677.9 crore ($1.27 billion) has been donated to the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) fund for COVID-19 relief since March 28, 2020.
An additional Rs 2,098.2 crore has been pledged to the relief fund and Rs 7,855 crore has also been earmarked from several government sources, the report mentioned.
The Prime Minister's office on May 13, 2020, had announced that Rs 3,100 crore from PM CARES had been allocated to fight COVID-19. This constitutes 32% of Rs 9,677.9 crore collected as of May 20, 2020.
"Out of Rs 3,100 crore, a sum of approximately Rs 2,000 crore will be earmarked for the purchase of ventilators, Rs 1,000 crore will be used for care of migrant labourers and Rs 100 crores will be given to support vaccine development," Prime Minister Narendra Modi's office said in a statement.
Who Is Donating?
After analyzing the press releases on the government's Press Information Bureau website, and referring to various media reports on private companies and individuals donating and/or pledging money to the fund, IndiaSpend pegged the estimate at Rs 9,677.9 crore.
Of Rs 9,677.9 crore, Rs 4,308.3 crore was donated by government agencies and staff, of which at least Rs 438.8 crore was deducted as one-day's salary of government employees.
At least Rs 5,369.6 crore have been donated by private companies, industry bodies and social organisations as part of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds, the report found.
The Centre also clarified that contributions made by companies to the Chief Ministers's Relief Fund or the State Relief Fund towards fighting COVID-19 will not be counted as CSR spending.
Further, Rs 1,250 crore has been pledged by government agencies. Various private companies have pledged at least Rs 772.4 crore. Celebrities have also pledged at least Rs 53.8 crore.
The relief fund is also open to foreign funding and Rs 22 crore has been pledged by two foreign companies, Fairfax Financial Holdings and Russia's state-owned defence exports company, Rosoboronexport.
Considering the shortages in personal protective gear for medical staff, the report states that Rs 9677.9 crore in the relief funds could be utilized to purchase 145 million personal protective garments for healthcare staff, priced at Rs 666.75 each. The entire amount could also be used to buy 2.3 billion N95 masks, priced at Rs 42.
At Rs 141.60 each, 683 million protective goggles could be purchased using this tranche.
Private labs cannot charge more than Rs 4,500 for an RT-PCR test. In this case, the funds could be used to cover 21.5 million tests.
While the PM CARES fund was set up as a trust to "deal with any kind of emergency or distress situation, like posed by the COVID-19 pandemic", another similar institution has existed since 1948, known as the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF) which had an unspent balance of Rs 3,800 crore until November 2019.
Besides PM CARES and the PMNRF, there are other sources for money designated to fight COVID-19.
Rs 7,800 crore was available to members of parliament as part of the 'Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme' (MPLADS) but has noe been suspended by the government as of April 6, 2020 in order to "strengthen Government's efforts in managing the challenges and adverse impact of COVID19 in the country".
The salaries of parliamentarians have also been slashed by 30% for one year, amounting to Rs 55 crore, which is likely to be utilized to tackle the pandemic.
Other organisations like the Indian Red Cross Society have donated ventilators, masks, PPEs and test kits valued at Rs 5.5 crore.
The Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) spent Rs 3,009.6 crore on masks, cooked meals, dry ration, PPE, sanitisers, medical equipment and supplies and medical facilities.
Thousands of government employees have also actively donated large amounts to PM CARES.
Railways employees have donated Rs 151 crore even as Indian Railways. The head and members of NITI Aayog, the Centre's policy think-tank, have also taken a 30% salary slash for a year to donate to PM CARES.
In the private sector, In the private sector, donations totals to a whopping Rs 5,123.5 crore. Azim Premji Foundation has committed Rs 1,000 crore to COVID-19 relief work. Tata Group has also pledged Rs 1,500 crore, of which Rs 500 crore is for PM CARES.
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