New Delhi: A circular issued by the Department of Revenue under the Ministry of Finance to all the officers and staff appealing to them to “contribute their one day’s salary every month till March 2021 to the PM CARES (Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance & Relief in Emergency Situations) Fund to aid the government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic” has raised many eyebrows. It looks as though Centre is commandeering these donations – if an officer does not want to donate, they need to say so in writing.
`Donation by default’
Issued on April 17 by the director and head of the Department of Revenue, the circular states:
“Any officer or staff having objection to it may intimate drawing and disbursing officer, Department of Revenue in writing mentioning his/her employee code latest by 20.4.2020.”
What has irked the officials is that the order barely gives them a choice. “Unlike several state governments, which have similarly asked their officers and staff to donate to the CM’s Relief Fund by giving their approval in writing, this order takes it for granted that the officers have given their consent to the proposed deduction. By asking them to refuse in writing it puts them in an awkward and difficult situation,” said a senior IAS officer.
`Why donate to only PM CARES’
Some officials also questioned why the demand for donating to the Prime Minister’s Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations (PM CARES) Fund was being made, when it was a private fund. “What if an officer wants to donate to some other government agency, institution or NGO engaged in relief work related to the lockdown?” asked another officer.
Questions are also being asked on whether it is okay to seek a day’s salary in donation from even junior officers, who may not be saving as much as the seniors do. Furthermore, it has been pointed out that donations should not be sought in the form of a command.
“Even when it came to allowing people an opportunity to postpone their equated monthly instalments by three months in view of the financial distress caused by COVID-19, the proposal said they would need to ask in writing for such a deferment, it was not an automatic assumption. Here, the government is assuming in advance that all the staff would agree to a cut and those who do not will have to say so in writing,” the IAS officer said.