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Business News/ News / India/  Govt, Opposition may lock horns over PM CARES Fund at PAC meeting
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Govt, Opposition may lock horns over PM CARES Fund at PAC meeting

The public accounts committee may select the fund as a topic for examination when it meets on 10 July
  • PM CARES Fund was previously critiqued by ex-Congress president Rahul Gandhi, who accused it of opacity
  • The NDA govt claims to have allocated portions from the PM Cares Fund for ventilators, relief measures, etc. (PTI)Premium
    The NDA govt claims to have allocated portions from the PM Cares Fund for ventilators, relief measures, etc. (PTI)

    NEW DELHI : The public accounts committee (PAC) of Parliament, led by Congress leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, is likely to select PM CARES Fund as one of the subjects for examination when it meets on 10 July, senior leaders aware of developments said. The move could set the stage for a conflict between the government and the Opposition.

    The PAC is responsible for examining how the government spends its money. The ruling alliance suspects that the Opposition would try to scrutinize the issue in an attempt to corner the Union government. PAC’s scope includes examination of accounts showing the appropriation of sums granted by Parliament for government expenditure, annual finance accounts of the government and any such accounts laid before the House.

    National Democratic Alliance (NDA) leaders believe said Congress and Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK)are likely to use the opportunity to select PM CARES Fund for scrutiny when the PAC meets for the first time since outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic.

    “The PAC is one of the oldest parliamentary committees if not the oldest and as per the norm, it is headed by a senior leader of Opposition to maintain impartiality. But we suspect that there is going to be an attempt by the Congress to use PAC for political gains and settle scores. This is not the first time when Congress along with other opposition parties would try to do it," said a senior NDA leader aware of the developments.

    The PAC will on Friday discuss and consider ‘selection of subjects for examination during the year 2020-21’ according to the meeting description on the Lok Sabha website. Opposition parties including Congress, Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Shiv Sena and Left Parties, among others, have been vocal in questioning the PM CARES Fund.

    “Parliamentary committees are non-partisan but the chief of PAC is a senior Congress leader. We will have to see how many people actually take part in the meeting of the committee on 10 July. Most members are not in Delhi so if they are not able to reach then there cannot be any meeting," another NDA leader added.

    ‘Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund’ or PM CARES Fund, set up on 28 March, defines itself as a public charitable trust with the key objective of ‘dealing with any kind of emergency or distress situation’ like covid-19 pandemic. Senior leaders of the NDA argue that the Congress party leaders had earlier tried to corner the union government by trying to invite home secretary Ajay Bhalla in another parliamentary committee to question him on the PM CARES Fund.

    “There will be more clarity closer to the meeting on what are the exact subjects which are selected for scrutiny. But naturally, issues related to covid-19 will be a top priority because entire nation’s focus on that. PM CARES Fund is being raised by all opposition parties and it could be taken up in the committee meeting as well," an Opposition member from the committee said, requesting anonymity.

    Another Opposition leader from the committee added that the meeting would be crucial given it will set the agenda and key topics for scrutiny in the coming year. Opposition to the PM CARES Fund has come from its top leaders, including former Congress president Rahul Gandhi who has accused it of opacity. The Union government has said it has allocated portions from the fund for ventilators, relief measures for migrants and vaccine development among others.

    gyan.v@livemint.com

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    Published: 08 Jul 2020, 06:17 AM IST
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