Kerala CM, European trips proposed by ministers spark controversy | Latest India News
As Kerala reels from an acute financial crisis and faces an overdraft situation, a proposed visit by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and three other ministers to Europe next month has sparked a political row.
The opposition Congress and the BJP called on the government to stop preaching about financial prudence and control and practice what it preaches. But the state’s finance minister, KN Balagopal, has justified the visits, saying they will greatly benefit the state and cannot be postponed citing the state’s financial situation.
The CM and Education Minister V Sivankutty and a group of officials are due to travel to Europe in the first week of next month. They will travel to Finland, Norway and other Nordic countries to explore cooperation in the education and cultural sectors.
Tourism Minister Mohammad Riyas is expected to visit France and other countries to explore tourism potential next month, according to government records. Industry Minister P Rajeev will visit Britain in November to attract investment to the state.
“These visits are important for gaining knowledge and mutual cooperation and assistance. They will have no impact on overall government spending. The situation is not so bad as one section shows,” Balagopal said.
The CPI(M) Secretary of State, MV Govindan, also justified the Ministers’ visit to Europe. “Overseas visits are part of governance, we can learn a lot from other countries and explore mutual cooperation,” he said, adding that the issue had been raised unnecessarily.
Expenditure on a large scale during the Onam festival season which has just ended and the union government cap on borrowing limit at ₹17,936 crores for the nine-month period from April to December worsened the financial condition of the state.
He also had to deal with a reduction in ₹3,578 crores within its borrowing limit due to the Centre’s plan to consider limited borrowings from the Kerala Infrastructure Development Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and Kerala Social Security as part of debt of State. The center rejected his repeated requests not to include these two under the state borrowing limit.
According to the Department of Finance, monthly government expenditure is set at ₹14,500 crore, but he went through ₹15,000 crore in the first week of September. The free Onam food kit, bonuses to government employees, festival allowance to retirees, festival advance to civil servants, and responsibility for salary review have generated huge expenses.
In addition to this, the ailing public road transport company received ₹300 crores to meet the pending salary of its employees after the high court rap. Onam kits, with 14 food items, distributed to 87 lakh cardholders, cost the chessboard ₹425 crores, according to statistics from the Ministry of Finance.
“The persistent use of borrowed funds to fill the revenue gap, excessive increase in wages and pensions, gifts and reduction of the annual borrowing limit by the central government have led to such a situation,” he said. said economist BA Prakash, adding that it was high time for the state to stop the extravagance and not use the borrowed money to meet current expenses.
Congress and the BJP criticized the ministers’ plan to visit. “The state’s financial situation is precarious and it is exploring all borrowing possibilities. Now ministers are lining up to visit foreign countries. Doing splurges and extravagances during the lean season, communist ideology is once again on display,” State Congress Chairman K Sudhakaran said.
“These ministers say they will learn a lot from foreign countries. They often display the Kerala model and ask others to emulate it. What happened now? This is ridiculous,” BJP leader S Suresh said, adding that the results of previous visits should also be taken into account.