Kerala

Kerala Opposition walks out over hobbled development works

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac  

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The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition accused Finance Minister Thomas Isaac of financial jugglery

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) Opposition walked out of the Kerala Legislative Assembly on Monday holding the Government's "duplicity" in financial matters responsible for the "stasis" in the execution of public works in the State.

Congress legislator K. C. Joseph had sought the adjournment of the scheduled business of the House to discuss the "urgent matter" that "adversely" impacted the quality of public life.

He said Finance Minister Thomas Isaac's "flawed decision" to deduct last fiscal's pending "queue bill clearances" and treasury payments for "spillover works" from the plan fund allocated for 2019-20 financial year had "deprived" village, block and district panchayats and Municipalities of essential means to carry out much-needed repair and maintenance works.

Mr. Isaac's "financial shenanigans, economic doublespeak, airy claims and jugglery of figures" to show a higher plan spending than previous years had precipitated a precarious administrative situation wherein departments and local bodies now required to redetermine their plan share midway through the current fiscal.

Mr. Joseph painted a grim picture of the State's financial situation. Forest Minister K. Raju had come on record that the treasury was empty. (Mr Raju later denied the allegation). Public Works Department Minister G. Sudhakaran had compared the Finance Department to Bakasura, a mythical demon that devoured everything. The State was hardpressed to pass the bills presented by Government contractors who in turn refused to execute public works.

Voters bore the brunt of Mr Isaac's "dishonest" financial management. Roads remained potholed, culverts broken, bridges unfinished, drains silted, and drinking water pipelines unlaid. Local bodies could not undertake new development works, he said.

Mr. Isaac said Mr. Joseph had spoken like the "devil quoting the scripture for his purpose". He had misrepresented facts. Mr. Joseph's tone of indignation smacked of distortion, he said.

The Government had only asked local bodies to prioritise funding. It had not denied their plan share of deprived them of funds.

A shortfall in the State's share of GST revenue and the Centre's arbitrary decision to slash the amount the State could avail as a loan and economic recession had unfavourably impacted the State's revenues.

However, the Government had not cut back on plan share to local bodies. Moreover, the State would recalibrate its fiscal policy once the Centre announced its long-awaited stimulus package.

The Speaker later rejected the adjournment motion.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 1:56:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/kerala-opposition-walks-out-over-hobbled-development-works/article29943516.ece

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