Thiruvananthapuram: The financial crisis that has gripped the state triggered a heated discussion in the state assembly on Tuesday with the opposition charging finance minister T.M. Thomas Isaac with administrative inefficiency and financial extravagance.
Dr Isaac, on his part, chose to lay the blame on the Union government which he said failed to release Rs 1,600 crore due the state as GST compensation, necessitating treasury curbs.
Congress leader V.D. Satheesan who moved an adjournment motion on the financial crisis said the government had failed on all counts. Using the catch word of French novelist Emile Zola’s 'J'Accuse, meaning ‘I Accuse,’ Mr Satheesan said: “I accuse the finance minister of introducing stringent treasury controls. I accuse the finance minister of increasing the public debt. I accuse the finance minister of inefficiency. I accuse the finance minister of extravagance.” Mr Satheesan mocked KIIFB, the brainchild of Mr Issac, as the ‘silk loin cloth’ hung on the roof of the LDF house.
Mr Satheesan did not spare higher education minister K.T. Jaleel facing ‘moderation’ charges either. “Dr Isaac's finance management is so poor that even 'Jaleel marks' will not help him pass,” he said.
In his reply, Dr Isaac said the financial crisis was triggered by the delay on the part of the central government to release `1,600 crore as the share of GST compensation. He also accused the centre of cutting down the credit limit of the state by almost `6,000 crore.
Dr Isaac hit back at Mr Satheesan listing the various projects with revised estimates initiated by the previous UDF government. The estimates of many bridges and projects of irrigation department were revised to ensure corruption. “Like in the case of the Palarivattom bridge, we will conduct an inquiry into these projects also,” he said.
Dr Isaac said treasury restrictions were only for 10 per cent of contract works which were mostly for asset development. The bills of the contractors are paid according to the schedule and bills up to December 2018 have already been paid, he said. “The plan fund utilisation till November 18 was 49 per cent, an all-time record, while it was only 33.9 per cent last year. In the last financial year during the UDF regime, the utilisation during the same period was only 30.2 per cent,” he said.
Later, the opposition walked out as Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan refused to admit the adjournment notice given by Mr Satheesan. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala dared the government to order a probe into all projects during the UDF tenure. He asked the finance minister about the fate of the committee headed by Law Minister A.K. Balan which investigated the cabinet decisions taken during the last phase of the UDF rule....