Centre trying to impose economic sanctions on Kerala: KN Balagopal

Finance Minister KN Balagopal. File Photo: Manorama Online

Thiruvananthapuram: Finance minister of Kerala K N Balagopal on Friday said the Centre was trying to impose economic sanctions by reducing the state's tax share and borrowing limit.

The minister accused the opposition UDF MPs of non-cooperation with the government making it diffcult for the state to avail of deserved benefits from the Centre.

Balagopal further said despite the financial crisis the state is facing, the LDF government has assured assistance in all sectors and expects to spend around Rs 19,000 crore during the Onam season.

"Despite the difficulty, the government is ensuring assistance in all areas," the minister said, stating that the social welfare pension has already been paid.

Though the Congress-led UDF MPs had agreed to stand united on the financial issues being faced by the state, none of them agreed to meet Union finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman and sign the memorandum to be submitted to her recently, the minister alleged.

“During the recent MPs conference convened by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the Congress MPs had assured all support to stand united to protect the interests of the state. But neither the 18 Lok Sabha MPs of the UDF nor their Rajya Sabha colleagues turned up to meet the union finance minister to appraise her of the state's financial positions and to pressure her to release the state's dues,” he charged.

It appears that the UDF MPs share the BJP's interest in trying to impose economic sanctions on Kerala, the minister alleged.

Condemning the Centre's approach towards Kerala on economic matters, Balagopal alleged that the BJP-led government has tied the state's hands by reducing its deserved allocations and shares.

"Even our fingers (not just hands) are tied," Balagopal said, illustrating the acute financial crisis that the state is confronting. Besides cutting short its borrowing limit, the Centre has also slashed the state's deserved tax share and revenue deficit grant remarkably, he pointed out.

'Congress cheating people of Kerala'

Addressing a press conference, the state finance minister sought to know what the UDF MPs from the state have done so far on this important issue. "Not a single UDF MP from the state was ready to sign the memorandum (to be submitted to the union finance minister). There was no politics; only financial matters were in the memorandum. The MPs were also not ready to meet her," he said.

Charging the Congress with 'cheating' the people of the state, the senior CPM leader asked whether the MPs' non-cooperation was part of a policy adopted by the opposition UDF against the LDF government.

"If allocations are drastically reduced by the Centre, it would adversely impact the state's education and health sectors and not protect even the basic rights of the future generation," Balagopal said.

(With PTI inputs)

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