January 2021
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Kerala News
Kerala govt, Oppn trade barbs over draft CAG report on KIIFB
Kochi: Kerala''s ruling CPI(M) and the opposition on Sunday continued to trade barbs over the draft CAG report on KIIFB, with Finance Minister Thomas Isaac terming the unpublished document as "absurd" and senior Congress leader Ramesh Chennithala alleging corruption in some of the board-funded government projects. Attacking CAG over the draft report, which said KIIFB was raising loans "unconstitutionally," Isaac, who is also a senior CPI(M) leader alleged that this was for the first time since the formation of the board in 1999, the government auditor is saying that taking loan through KIIFB is against the principles of the Constitution.

With several projects of the state government including KFONE coming under the scanner of the central agencies including the Enforcement Directorate following the probe into the Kerala gold smuggling case, the CPI(M) sees red in the draft CAG report, prompting Isaac to cast doubts over its intention. He alleged that certain contents of the draft report were "politically motivated". "It is nothing but absurdity that is featured in the (CAG) report," Isaac told reporters here. He said the "absurdity" in the report will be discussed in the public. The minister said the state Finance Department is preparing a detailed reply that runs to over 100 pages for providing to the Comptroller and Audit General(CAG).

He rejected allegations levelled by the Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Ramesh Chennithala that there was corruption in some of the government projects utilising the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) fund. Describing as "baseless" the Congress leader''s charge, Isaac said he did not provide the details of the alleged corruption and the people allegedly involved in it. "There are KIIFB projects in the constituency of the Leader of Opposition. Is there any corruption in such projects?", he asked. Chennithala charged the Finance Minister with trying to divert people''s attention from the gold smuggling case and the case against son of CPI(M) leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan by raking up unnecessary issues. He also alleged corruption in some of the KIIFB funded projects in the state.

The Finance Minister said the LDF government had taken loan from the KIIFB soon after it was formed in 1999. The Congress-led UDF government had also availed loan from KIIFB during their tenure in the years 2002 and 2003. "Then no one had said it was anti-constitutional," he said. Responding to BJP state chief K Surendran''s allegations that Kerala gold smuggling had links with many projects state government utilising funds from the KIIFB, Isaac also said Kerala will not surrender to the BJP''s "bugbear". Accusing the BJP of ''using'' central agencies like the ED for political purposes, Isaac alleged that the saffron party is thinking that the constitutional body like CAG can also be used the same way.

"That will not work here", he said. Earlier, talking to reporters in Kozhikode, Surendran alleged that the KIIFB projects were not transparent and sought a detailed probe into the corruption in the project based on the findings of the CAG. Addressing media in Thiruvananthapuram on Saturday, Isaac had dismissed the findings, saying that the state government will not allow the Comptroller and Audit General (CAG) to destroy KIIFB, the primary agency of the state government for financing large and critical infrastructure projects in the state.

Pointing out that KIIFB was a corporate body and like any other such institutions, he had said it had the right to raise loans as per the existing rules. Corporate bodies of the central government have also availed such loans, he had claimed.

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