Special Correspondent

`Let officials examine charges of undervaluation of property'

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Finance Minister Vakkom Purushothaman said in the Assembly on Wednesday that he had not intervened to help his children register property transactions at lower values and evade stamp duty.

The Finance Minister, who is officiating for Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, was replying to the debate on the motion of thanks to the Governor for his Address.

Noting that the Registration Department was not under him, Mr. Purushothaman said it was for the officials of the department to examine whether there was undervaluation of property. If there was undervaluation, they could still demand an appropriate stamp duty.

Earlier, deputy leader of the CPI (M) Kodiyeri Balakrishnan had alleged that the exchequer had lost Rs.8.46 lakhs owing to undervaluation of various properties by Mr. Purushothaman's children.

Transfer of about 12 acres of property in the suburbs of Thiruvananthapuram worth more than Rs.1.20 crores had been registered showing a value of only Rs.37.54 lakhs.

Denying Opposition allegations that he had taken bribes for granting licences to bar hotels, the Minister said no favour was involved in granting licences to three star hotels.

They were eligible for licences. Hence the questions of their paying any bribes did not arise.

Mr. Purushothaman also denied corruption behind his increasing the fees on liquor permits for Mahe and cutting the quantum of liquor allowed to be taken to Mahe.

It had been alleged that the merchants had paid him money to ensure that the Kerala Government would not go on appeal against the favourable court verdict they had obtained against the restrictions. But he had, in fact, ordered that an appeal should be filed.

Though Pondicherry Chief Minister had sought withdrawal of the quantitative restrictions, he had agreed to increase the quota from 50 per cent to 75 per cent only.

The Minister defended officers who had been criticised by former Chief Secretary M. Vijayanunni.

"The honesty and integrity of E. K. Bharat Bhushan and K. K. Vijayakumar are recognised by all."