Girish Menon

The new fund replaces the existing ADB-aided Asset Renewal Fund

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The State government has established an Asset Maintenance Fund for financing renovation and maintenance of government hospitals, schools, colleges, Anganwadis, hostels and police stations.

The Asset Maintenance Fund replaces the existing Asset Renewal Fund established in 2004 under the Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded mid-term structural adjustment programme under the previous United Democratic Front (UDF) government. The government order constituting the new fund refrains from making reference to the ADB, but admits that the earlier renewal fund scheme could not be properly implemented.

The Rs.136-crore with the now defunct Asset Renewal Fund would now be transferred to the newly-constituted Asset Maintenance Fund and a new scheme has been formulated to replace the old one in terms of financing renovation and maintenance works.

A nine-member State-level committee of senior IAS officials, with the Chief Secretary as the Chairperson, has been constituted to administer the new fund. The committee will have the powers to decide on the projects to be taken up for maintenance and rehabilitation not only for the amounts available under the new fund, but also outside funding. The committee will also decide on the pattern of funding for maintenance of assets.

According to sources, the Asset Renewal Fund had been set up in the context of falling budget allocation for renovation and maintenance of physical and infrastructure assets created over the years. The now defunct renewal fund had received budget allocations since its inception, but these amounts have not been used fruitfully. Interestingly, this has taken place at a time when the State has been petitioning successive Finance Commissions to make special grants for Kerala to address its second generation problems of upkeep of the assets built over the years.

The Kerala Asset Maintenance Fund Scheme has guidelines for utilisation of funds. The Rs.136 crore will form the corpus of the new fund and this would be supplemented by budgetary allocations. Government sources said the fund would be available only for maintenance of existing assets and not for creation of new assets. The government has defined assets to mean fixed structures such as buildings, bridges, machinery and equipment and fixtures of permanent and semi-permanent nature that form part of the infrastructure facilities of the government or the local bodies.

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