‘Bid to scuttle KIIFB-funded projects’
Finance Minister T.M. Thomas has accused the office of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of ‘waging a proxy war’ against the State government and trying to scuttle the ₹50,000-crore Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB)-funded projects that have commenced or are in the pipeline.
Lashing out at the CAG and the its 2018-19 audit report at a press conference here on Thursday, Dr. Isaac said the intention of the report is ‘suspicious’ as four pages which were not in the draft report were added to the final report without seeking the comments of the State government and forwarded for tabling in the Legislative Assembly.
“Such unilateral moves are not expected from Constitutional bodies such as the CAG. The CAG report has created an extraordinary situation in the State and extraordinary measures will have to be taken as uncertainty prevails over the development projects,” he said.
Pointing out that the CAG has observed that all the loans taken by KIIFB are unconstitutional, the Finance Minister this cannot be agreed to as the KIIF Act was passed by the Assembly with the support of the Opposition United Democratic Front.
Unfortunately, Dr. Isaac said, the UDF was silent now on the CAG report and was bothered only about the alleged breach of privilege committed by him.
Reiterating that there were only two paragraphs on KIIFB in the draft report, the Finance Minister said it was not right to suggest that the Assembly should discuss a report that was not even discussed with the government. “This is in violation of the Assembly’s rights. It is not a small thing. The Kerala Assembly has been insulted and the CAG has committed breach of privilege,” he said.
The charges raised by the Opposition against him regarding violation of guidelines were much smaller when compared to the setbacks that developmental activities in Kerala will suffer, Dr. Isaac said.
The government has the right to open a report before it is placed in the Assembly, he said, pointing out that the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister can examine the report.
Dr. Isaac said he had received a letter from the Assembly Speaker based on the notice from the Opposition on breach of privilege and that reply will be given citing all aspects and background.
“We are contesting the CAG’s report and their arguments. A 100-page reply is ready. We will use all options and consult legal experts on the CAG’s interpretation of the Constitution and Article 293(1). We will table it in the Assembly and discuss it. The CAG should follow procedures and should not hang the Sword of Damocles over the State,” Dr. Isaac said.
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