The Kerala Assembly on Thursday cleared the amendment Bill to mobilise Rs 50,000 crore for infrastructure development projects.
The amendment to Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) Bill will equip the board to float bonds and mobilise money from various countrywide financial agencies.
Though the Congress-led UDF in the opposition showered flak on the amendment throughout the discussion on the Bill, all members finally agreed to state finance minister TM Thomas Isaac’s request to pass the amendment unanimously.
The Opposition, however, expressed doubts about the practical utility of KIIFB.
“At the first phase itself, the state expects to mobilise Rs 20,000 crore,” Dr Isaac said, presenting the bill. “Of this, Nabard has promised R5,000 crore. Eminent persons will be on the board to infuse market confidence,” he added.
Though Kerala is currently a revenue-deficit state, within six financial years, it will emerge a revenue-surplus state, according to Dr Isaac.
The minister refused to go by the Opposition’s demand that the projects under the KIIFB umbrella should avoid tolls and user fees. The Bill mandates that administrative panel headed by the chief minister and the executive panel headed by the state finance minister will spearhead the functioning of KIIFB.
Former state finance minister KM Mani argued that the new outfit KIIFB would bypass the controlling reins of state’s budget and Assembly.
“Like Aladdin’s hand on his magic lamp, Dr Isaac would have his hand on KIDBI to pay the loans. Any discussion, on the spending pattern of the share of state motor vehicle tax and petrol cess falling into KIIFB corpus, would be beyond the purview of State Assembly,” said Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala.