PM-CARES fund, which has been created to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, has contributed more than Rs 2,200 crore to the first phase of vaccination drive, the Expenditure Secretary said on Tuesday, February 2.
The fund was created in March 2020 to provide relief to those affected by the virus and received donations through voluntary contribution by individuals and corporates, News18 reported.
With the Union Budget for 2021-22, over 82 per cent of the cost of vaccination against Coronavirus during January to March in the country is being borne by the PM CARES Fund. The budget has set aside Rs 35,000 crore for COVID-19 vaccination.
Expenditure Secretary TV Somanathan said that the cost of vaccination of frontline and healthcare workers in the current fiscal is being borne fully by the government and the money is coming from PM CARES fund and Health Ministry. "For January-March the (vaccination) cost is expected to be about Rs 2,700 crore approximately. Part of it is coming from the Health Ministry and some part of it is funded from the PM CARES fund. This is for the first round of 3 crore frontline and health workers," he said.
"The entire cost of this round will be borne by the Centre. We had provided extra funds to the Health Ministry for incidental costs to vaccination. We made an additional allocation of Rs 480 crore just for the 3 crore batch of vaccination," he said.
The remaining about Rs 2,220 crore will come from PM-CARES fund, he added.
Several activists and opposition leaders have criticised the secrecy behind the PM-CARES Fund as the donations made and expenditure has not been shared in the public domain.
Many former civil servants have alleged that there is a clear lack of transparency in the fund. They said it is important that, for reasons of probity and adherence to standards of public accountability, the financial details of receipts and expenditures be made available in order to avoid doubts of wrongdoing.