Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Monday mounted a strong defence of the use of Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) funds for various development projects in the state, equating those criticising the Board as being ‘anti-development.’
The Chief Minister’s comments came after the state finance minister TM Thomas Isaac slammed the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) for its ‘findings’ in a draft report that KIIFB was raising loans ‘unconstitutionally.’ The Opposition Congress and the BJP have also alleged in the past that KIIFB-funded projects in the state reek of corruption.
“If there are people coming out to destroy KIIFB, we will not stand for it. (KIIFB) funds are used to satisfy the needs of the state. So why are they trying to place hurdles before it?” Vijayan said at a press briefing in Thiruvananthapuram.
In a detailed response to a reporter’s question on the sanctity of KIIFB funds in bankrolling development projects, the Chief Minister claimed that only certain people with ‘degenerate’ minds can be restless about change being ushered into the state through its schools, hospitals, roads and low-cost internet to households.
“Today, our children are studying in schools with international standards. It’s in turn spreading happiness in their families. There were many who thought why our schools weren’t undergoing change. So, now that our schools are progressing, who is it upsetting? Everyone should be happy about it…for example, we have been successful in defending against Covid-19. The role of the public is important, but it also points to the capacity of our healthcare institutions. Primary health centres are becoming family health centres and district and taluk hospitals have super-speciality facilities. Everyone should approve it. Will the state rescind it? The people are not upset, but yes, some people with degenerate minds will be upset,” he said.
“If our roads get upgraded, won’t we save time travelling? When rural roads are getting upgraded with KIIFB funds, won’t our future generations benefit from it? Through one side, we are building the hill highway and through the other side, the coastal highway is coming up…when households get low-cost internet, isn’t that to be happy about? We are ensuring that access to the internet becomes a fundamental right,” he said, justifying the expansion of financial resource-building through KIIFB apart from budget allocation.
Vijayan also alleged that the Congress and the Sangh Parivar are joining hands to destroy the reputation of KIIFB. Isaac earlier had held RSS leader Ram Madhav responsible for allegedly hatching a plot against KIIFB through chartered accountant Ranjith Karthikeyan who has filed a petition in the High Court.
“A leader of the Sangh Parivar files a petition before the High Court. A member of the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) goes and pleads the case. There’s very good unity. But for what? What is the objective? Are they against the projects that are being funded by KIIFB? Can they say that these projects need not be implemented in their own constituencies?” the CM said.
KIIFB is a corporate body formed in November, 1999 to raise funds outside the state revenue in order to drive critical infrastructure projects in sectors such as education, health, roads and digital connectivity.
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