Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Tuesday accused the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of joining ranks with Central agencies to wreck Kerala's developmental activities by targeting the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB).
KIIFB has helped the State fast-track the development in the face of crippling crises. Kerala could ill-afford to give a holiday to development because its revenue streams had dwindled and the budget was deficient. Kerala government would defend KIIFB at all costs. It would protect its credibility, which was paramount to attract funds from the open market for development. "Let no one think that Kerala government is a helplessly mute statue and it will silently soak in the assaults on KIIFB", Mr. Vijayan said.
Mr. Vijayan slammed the CAG for terming KIIFB's bid to raise funds for development from foreign market as unconstitutional. The CAG had made some damaging observations without giving the government the right to reply to its audit queries. "Even after the audit exit meeting, the government had given the CAG full access to KIIFB files and accounts," he said.
Entities and persons that attempted to tarnish the global standing of KIIFB by casting aspersions on its role were "enemies of the people". They wanted to dash the developmental hopes of the State and push the polity back to stasis. The government would not bend to the will of powers that seek to cut the ground under KIIFB and render it impotent.
KIIFB was a construct of the 1999 Left Democratic Front government. The body was dormant for a long time. When the incumbent government assumed power in 2016, it streamlined KIIFB's functioning. It empowered it to raise funds from the international financial market to spur the State's development. The Opposition had supported the move in the Assembly. United Democratic Front legislators had benefited from KIIFB funder projects in their constituencies. KIIFB hoped to pay back the loans from the revenue from fuel cess and a portion of the motor vehicle tax.
KIIFB worked under the leadership of an independent board populated by financial experts, able administrators and government officials. The Securities Exchange Board of India and Reserve Bank of India regulated its functioning. KIIFB accounts were open to audit by the CAG. The government allowed KIIFB to park funds in profitable accounts to ensure that it was not fruitlessly diverted for meeting everyday government expenses.
Former CAG of India Vinod Rai headed the fund trustee advisory committee of KIIFB. The Chief Minister and Finance Minister were its chair and vice chair.