Is Isaac lying about CAG not consulting the government on KIIFB?

Thomas Isaac

Finance minister T M Thomas Isaac's big charge against the Comptroller and Auditor General is that the Constitutional Office had sneaked in observations about Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) without first consulting with the government.

He said paragraphs that were not in the Draft Report discussed with the government found a place in the final report without a word being spoken to the state government as is mandatory. Isaac, in a separate statement filed along with the CAG report, had also said that the minutes of the exit meeting, held to discuss the 'CAG Draft Report', were not received by the government.

Congress legislator V D Satheesan, who moved the adjournment motion in the Assembly on Wednesday, challenged both these claims inside the House. That the CAG had talked to the government about KIIFB's borrowings, Satheesan said, was evident from the CAG report itself.

Here is what the first line of the 'Conclusion' under the CAG's observations on KIIFB says: “KIIFB's response was that the government was providing guarantee for principal and interest for the loans received by KIIFB and therefore the borrowings of KIIFB can be termed as contingent liabilities”.

“It speaks of KIIFB's response and do we need to be any more clear on the fact that the CAG had sought details about KIIFB's borrowings from the government,” Satheesan asked. The minister did not respond to this.

It was the mention of the exit meeting minutes that apparently provoked Isaac.

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V D Satheesan

Contrary to what the minister said, Satheesan claimed that the CAG had sent the minutes of the exit meeting to the Finance Department. “It is just that the finance secretary did not sign it and sent it back. But the minutes is with the government,” Satheesan said. “By saying the government had not received the minutes, the minister has misled the Governor and the Assembly,” he added.

Seemingly enraged, Isaac wanted to know how he got such a wrong information. “I am the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (which scrutinises the accounts of the government, and which is traditionally headed by an opposition legislator),” Satheesan said. “It is easy for me to get such information. I am willing to prove that the minutes had been received by the Finance Department. This is a challenge I am making in the floor of the House,” he said.

Isaac but insisted that Satheesan's claim was false. “How are you going to prove it,” he asked the Congress legislator. “I have many ways at my disposal, including an RTI application to the CAG seeking information about the minutes of the exit meeting,” Sastheesan said.

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