RTI find: Just 7,247 cr, not Rs 60,000 cr, spent for projects with KIIFB money


Thiruvananthapuram: The state government may have made bombastic claims about implementing projects worth Rs 60,000 crore with money raised through the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB ) but available documents indicate that so far only Rs 7247 cr had been spent on the ground.

The money utilised so far is only half the amount that is available with the KIIFB.

After the reconstitution of the KIIFB, Rs 15, 902 cr has come to it. The government had so far disclosed only the amount for projects which had received KIIFB approval. However, it did not release the full details of the total amount spent.

It was only through an application filed under the Right to Information Act that the KIIFB provided a detailed statement of accounts till January 31. It also provides allied documents in support.

At a press conference held on February 16, Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had stated that the total amount for which projects had been sanctioned by KIIFB came to 63,250.66 cr. The minister went on to explain that of this amount Rs 43,250.66 cr was for basic infrastructure development as part of 889 projects and 20,000 cr for six projects requiring land acquisition.

Which departments benefited

According to the available information, the Labour Department received the lowest assistance from KIIFB - Rs 1.06 cr.  The maximum funds were provided to the Public Works Department - Rs 2,427 crore.

The allocation for the General Education Department was Rs 1097 crore, Higher Education Department Rs 27.44 cr, Transport Department Rs 2.02 cr, Tourism Department Rs 3.12 cr and Fisheries Department Rs 4.48 cr.

The entire money including Rs 2,150 cr raised through the Masala Bond has been deposited in the banks and Rs 620.85 cr has been received by way of interest. The interest rate for treasury accounts is 7.5 per cent. But KIIFB has deposited the entire money in 12 private and public sector banks where interests range from 2.5 to 7.5 per cent.

The government had also advertised that projects worth Rs 4,250 cr had been sanctioned for the health department. However, actually what the health department has received so far is only Rs 296.52 cr.

Moreover, the amount spent on the health department was shown as 15 times more in the advertisement released to the national media. In the same advertisement, it was stated that under the Karunya Health Insurance Scheme 41.50 lakh families had been given five lakh each. But in reality, no cash handout is made to patients as the government gives only the treatment cost to hospitals under the scheme.

Officials say when the money spent so far is compared with the number of beneficiaries under the scheme, it shows that only a small number of people had received the assistance of Rs 5 lakh.

Isaac stands by officials

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) had recently summoned two top KIIFB officials to appear before it in connection with its probe into the state-owned agency's external borrowings by way of Masala Bonds.

Referring to the ongoing investigations and the controversy over the KIIFB's powers to raise money overseas Finance Minister Thomas Isaac put up a brave front. He also cited the case of the Development Finance Institution (DFI) set up by the central government on the lines of the KIIFB.

"The DFI has been exempted from the purview of investigations by central agencies," Isaac pointed out.

"As the chairman of the KIIFB and chairman of the executive committee I take full responsibility, but the government will not yield to the political threats being issued by central agencies with an eye on the forthcoming assembly elections in the state," he said making his stand clear.

"If there is any violation of the law let them arrest me. The notices are being issued to officials by central agencies as part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's political propaganda.

He said the officials would not appear before these agencies just because notices having been served on them. "We will not allow the witch hunt of officials," he said.

The minister also asked the opposition United Democratic Front to make its stand clear whether it would continue projects worth Rs 60,000 crore taken up by the KIIFB.

Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan too had targeted the centre over the row. "The Centre is misusing the ED and other agencies to target the KIIFB. What is the objective of this witch hunt? The central agencies will not be able to act against against the KIIFB. We have no apprehensions. If they resort to wrong ways then we care a damn!" He had said.

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