Delhi-based chartered accountancy firm SARC & Associates has been hired to audit the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund, according to information given by the fund’s administrators.
The independent auditor has been appointed for three years. The audit will be conducted at the end of a financial year, as per details given in the set of frequently asked questions on the Fund. The appointment is significant because critics have questioned the rationale for a fund other than the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) for relief work and have also sought more transparency about the usage of monies from the Fund.
The FAQs posted on the website of the Fund also said it is being administered by two officials in the Prime Minister’s Office on an honorary basis.
Charitable trusts get income tax exemption and therefore need to get audited by a chartered accountant and report to the tax department. Over the last few years, the department has tightened the rules governing charitable trusts to ensure that funds received are used for intended objective and to boost compliance. The department has also stepped up disclosure requirement of trusts in the audit reports.
Contributions made to the PM CARES Fund are exempt from income tax. Also, contributions by profit making firms are counted as corporate social responsibility spending that they are mandated to undertake under the Companies Act.