Central policies financially choking state, its development work: Kerala Finance Minister in Assembly

The minister was responding to a query by a CPI(M) MLA on how the Centre was trying to weaken the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.


Published Mar 06, 2023 | 10:11 PMUpdatedMar 06, 2023 | 10:11 PM

KN Balagopal expressed disappointment that the MPs of the Congress-led opposition UDF were not objecting to such central policies in Parliament. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Centre, through its various policies on borrowing, was financially choking Kerala and the welfare and developmental activities it was undertaking, said state Finance Minister KN Balagopal in the Assembly on Monday, 6 March.

The minister referred to the financial restrictions by the Centre in response to a query by CPI(M) MLA IB Satheesh on how the central government was trying to weaken the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), which bankrolls the majority of developmental projects in the state.

‘Double standards’

Balagopal said that one of the means adopted by the central government to financially choke the state was by adding to its borrowings the loans taken by the KIIFB and the company that takes care of social security pensions.

However, the central government implements national highway projects through loans taken by entities like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), but these are not added to the borrowings by the Centre, he said. “This is the double standards of the central government,” he added.

Later in the day, during discussions on various demands for grants — including under the Goods and Services Tax — the minister said that despite facing such financial restrictions, Kerala’s GDP was showing a growth of over 12 percent and it was generating 63 percent of its revenue on its own.

He also expressed disappointment that the MPs of the Congress-led Opposition UDF were not objecting to such central policies in the Parliament.

Also Read: Will Kerala Christians toe Sangh Parivar line for BJP alliance gov’t?

Grants — yay or nay?

During the discussion on the demands for grants, which were opposed by the UDF, the minister accused the Opposition of wanting the state to be destroyed financially “as they (UDF) know they will never come back to power”.

Balagopal also raised the alleged lack of protests by the Opposition against the Centre’s hike in price of LPG cylinders, both domestic and commercial.

The Opposition was against the demand for grants, questioning that if the state GDP was showing an increase of over 12 percent, then what was the need for the ₹2 cess on fuel.

Also Read: Heavy taxes proposed in Kerala budget leave leaders fuming

It also alleged that the financial predicament the state was presently in was also due to the mismanagement by former Kerala Finance Minister Thomas Isaac.

After the discussions, the demands for grants were approved by the House by way of show of hands.

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