Kerala, ravaged by the floods in August, got a big boost on Tuesday in its efforts to rebuild the state’s infrastructure after the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank between them gave the nod for a $1 billion financial package. This loan package that will translate to funds infusion to the tune of Rs 7,300 crore over the next three years will give a fillip to the ‘Rebuild Kerala’ plan that has been under some pressure over the past several weeks on account of paucity of funds. In a clear effort to assure the multilateral agencies over the transparency of funds utilisation, the state Cabinet has formulated a four-tier structure for monitoring and implementing all projects that come under the ambit of this funding.
The state government has been struggling to raise funds on various fronts. The first setback came over the Rs 700 crore ‘offer’ from the UAE that kept blowing hot and cold given the context of the Centre’s stand not to accept overseas funds. While the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund managed to mop up Rs 1,800 crore, the target of Rs 25,000 crore remains a distant one. The government sought an additional assistance of Rs 4,796 crore last week, but the Centre is yet to respond. Meanwhile, the ‘salary challenge’ call by Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan saw the court intervening as it had a ‘compulsory’ tag. The Nava Kerala lottery sale too never took off.
With the World Bank aid in the bag, the chief minister would on Wednesday leave on a tour of the Gulf countries to raise funds. Clearly, the state continues to bank heavily on the support of non-resident Keralites whenever a calamity strikes the state. In all, 17 ministers are scheduled to visit 16 countries to directly collect contributions from businessmen, expatriates and Malayali organisations for rebuilding the state. It may take them more time than envisaged to get going as the Ministry of External Affairs has to get clearance from multiple embassies. Once that happens, it is anybody’s guess if these trips will bring home the gravy.