Kerala Assembly passes vote on account by voice vote

 thehindu.com  01/22/2021 05:13:28  2

The Assembly late on Thursday passed the vote on account for the 2020-21 financial year by voice vote.

The provision allowed the current government to withdraw money for spending for the next few months until the next administration unveiled a Budget for the entire fiscal.

Rounding up the discussions, Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac said borrowing for infrastructure development would not imperil the States finances.

The Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) had resorted to scaremongering tactics to frighten voters that the States outstanding debt had increased. It had drawn an erroneous analogy between private borrowing and public borrowing. The Left Democratic Front (LDF) government had put in place firm guard rails to reduce fiscal risks even as it raised money from the open financial market to meet the development aspirations of the people. The government had imposed tight fiscal discipline. However, the COVID-19 pandemic had upended the governments calculations.

Duties fulfilled

However, the government did not default on its duties. Social welfare pensions cost the exchequer 6,565 crore. The administration spent 5,417 crore on free food kits. Free COVID-19 treatment cost the State 1,617 crore. The government used 20,590 crore to meet its debt. Dr. Isaac said no government possessed a magic wand to dodge debt. The States outstanding debt had doubled every five years irrespective of the political dispensation in power. Despite the contagion hobbling the economy, Kerala registered a growth of 5.9%.

Dr. Isaac scotched reports that the government would shutter the Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation (KTDFC). He said the government used its various financial institutions for additional resource mobilisation. There was no economic situation that warranted their closure.

He denied that the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) sat on projects. He said KIIFB would extend funds only after vetting the projects.

KIIFB funds had transformed the public health sector in Kerala. The States education sector had also benefitted hugely.

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