The Assembly on Tuesday passed the Kerala Finance Bill rejecting the various amendments mooted by the Opposition.
Replying to the discussion on the Bill, Finance Minister K M Mani criticised what he called the main opposition party’s double standards on the issue of increasing the retirement age and introducing participatory pension scheme for government employees.
He asked the CPM members whether they did not have an all-India policy on these issues being an all-India party.
He pointed out that the Left government during its tenure in West Bengal had increased the retirement age from 55 to 58.
In Tripura, the Left government raised the pension age from 55 to 60. In Kerala, during the tenure of the VS Government, Finance Minister T M Thomas Issac raised the pension age by introducing the unification of pension date for government employees, he said.
Mani also pointed out that the Budget speech of Thomas Isaac for the year 2010-11 (page no.100) contained his proposal to formulate a corpus fund for providing participatory pension for university employees.
Citing that the universities were cash-starved, he had announced the sanctioning of Rs 100 crore for this corpus fund. Isaac had also suggested that the universities should pay 10 per cent of its fund to the corpus fund for disbursing pension.
At this point, C Divakaran of the CPI said that the KSSR and university employees’ service conditions were different. However, Mani confronted him with the question: “Why did your government opt for participatory pension plan for university employees if it was not ideal for the employees and the government.’’
The Finance Minister said that he had imposed 13.5 per cent tax only on those bakery items which had trade mark registration. Other items would attracts only 5 per cent tax, he said.
The Finance Minister pointed out that the tax buoyancy in the state was low and there was enough scope for imposing additional taxes. But the government decided not to impose higher rates of tax, he said.
Rejecting the charges of neglect being shown towards paddy farmers, he said while previous LDF Government spent Rs 26 crore for paddy procurement, the UDF Government spent Rs 107 crore last year on this account. In this fiscal, Rs 97 crore has been spent so far, he said.
Mani claimed that while the entire world was struggling under global economic slowdown, the finance management of the state was going smoothly.