Finance Minister K. M. Mani announced in the Assembly on Tuesday that the size of the MLA Fund would be increased to Rs. 1 crore a year. The corpus of the Fund, which can be used by members of the House for development schemes in their constituency, is currently Rs. 75 lakh.

The Minister, who was replying to the debate on the Appropriation Bill pertaining to the current year, also announced that capital expenditure was going up after the present government assumed office. It would be 1.65 per cent of the budget this year against 1.5 per cent last year. Expenditure during the previous years under LDF rule was even lower.

Mr. Mani noted that about 47 lakh card holders would be benefiting from the supply of rice at subsidised rates. The government had allocated Rs. 650 crore for rice subsidy this year. The government would be spending Rs. 5100 crore this year for improvement of about 1000 km of roads. In addition, money had been allocated for repairs. After the Minister’s reply, the House passed the Bill seeking to provide for withdrawal of about Rs. 59530 crore from the Consolidated Fund for services in the current financial year.

Earlier, intervening in the debate, Minister for Excise and Ports K. Babu said that the there had been no let up in the preparations for construction of the proposed airport at Kannur. The government was not left with more than Rs. 300 crore as claimed by the Opposition. The equity subscriptions came to only Rs. 53 crore so far including Rs. 10 crore paid by public sector units. The previous government had not prepared the detailed project report, which needed to be prepared now before the work could be taken up.