Collections for the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) in this financial year might be the highest since 2004-05, the Prime Minister’s Office’s (PMO) reply to a right to information (RTI) application shows. From April 1 to December 31, 2014, the fund got Rs 316 crore, making it a monthly average of Rs 35 crore, the PMO said.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, aggressively making a pitch to attract funds to PMNRF, has been at the helm since May 2014.
The PMO, however, refused to share information on the names of the donors to the Relief Fund during the current financial year. To a query on the names of entities that donated to PMNRF in 2014, the RTI reply said, “Data is not maintained in the format sought.”
The first year in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) rule under Manmohan Singh as Prime Minister from 2004-05 saw a collection of Rs 926 crore, making it a monthly average of Rs 77 crore and the highest in 10 years. This was the year when the tsunami had struck, causing significant loss to lives and assets in India.
In 2013-14, the fund attracted Rs 376 crore a year or Rs 31 crore a month, the second best collection during the UPA rule. That was the year when the country went for Lok Sabha polls. Otherwise, across six years under Singh as PM, the collection was way below Rs 50 crore a year. In 2006-07, the figure was Rs 33 crore a year (Rs 2.7 crore a month), in 2007-08 it was Rs 17 crore a year (Rs 1.4 crore a month), in 2009-10 Rs 38 crore a year (Rs 3.1 crore a month), in 2010-11 Rs 28 crore a year (Rs 2.4 crore a month), 2011-12 Rs 23 crore a year (Rs 1.9 crore a month) and in 2012-13 Rs 18 crore a year (Rs 1.5 crore a month).
Collections were better in 2005-06 at Rs 170 crore a year (Rs 14 crore a month) and 2008-09 at Rs 122 crore a year (Rs 10 crore a month).
Currently, the total corpus under the fund is Rs 2,106 crore.
Disbursals in the past 10 years from this fund have mostly exceeded the collection, while dipping into the corpus.
In its effort to popularise the PMNRF, the PMO had in September 2014 asked the government departments to publicise the scheme of 100 per cent tax exemption for contributions to the PMNRF, to encourage donations. “All donations towards PMNRF are notified for 100 per cent deduction from taxable income under Section 80G of Income-Tax Act, 1961,” it had said in an official order.
These contributions also qualify as CSR (corporate social responsibility) spend for companies, making it more attractive in terms of tax exemptions. The Prime Minister is chairman of the Fund.
Soon after taking charge, Modi reviewed functioning of the Fund, and even tweeted some of the proposed changes.