THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The four-month-long strike of Kerala Government Contractors’ Association (KGCA) seeking clearance of pending bills to the tune of `2050 crore, for the period November 2013 to July 2014, may end soon.
The decision is based on an assurance given by the Chief Minister that the bills for around `400 crore for the period November-December 2013 would be passed.
According to KGCA president Varghese Kannampally, the strike from April will be called off soon, if the government take further steps to clear the bills as per the Chief Minister’s promise.
“We were promised by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy that the pending bills of 2013 will be passed before Onam. The bills of around `400 crore is pending for works done at sections under roads, buildings and irrigation in November-December 2013. It is expected that steps to pass the bills, as promised by the Chief Minister, will be taken within two days,’’ he said. The Chief Minister had assured that the bills of November would be passed before August 15 and that of December would be settled before Onam. Though the bills of November were not yet cleared, we are waiting for the government’s initiative before Onam, he added.
The bills of around `1600 crore are pending regarding the works done under roads section during the period of November 2013 to July 2014.
Bills to the tune of `300 crore and `150 crore are pending for works done under the sections of buildings and irrigation respectively, during the same period.
‘’Though the Chief Minister has agreed to pass the bills of 2013, he has not mentioned anything about the bills for 2014 which would come to a whopping `1650 crore. The final decision will be based on Finance Minister K M Mani’s decision on the issue,’’ he said. During the period of the agitation, the association members had undertaken small works like filling of potholes and doing patchworks.
“We had done those works since they are urgent for reducing road accidents caused by the pathetic situation of the roads,’’ Varghese Kannampally said.
He said that the Association would boycott the tenders as a protest against the new guideline in the Finance Bill necessitating remittance of purchase tax along with compound tax. “If the government doesn’t take steps to cancel the order for remitting purchase tax, the protest (of boycotting tenders) will be extended to Railways, Water Authority and Central Public Works Department.
When contacted, PWD officials said that the Finance Minister had agreed to pass the bills of 2014 as soon as possible. In a meeting convened last week, he has agreed to take steps to clear the pending bills of 2014 after Onam, once the bills of last two months of 2013 get settled,’’ said Sunil V, Deputy Chief Engineer, PWD.
He added that the steps to amend the norms in the Finance Bill is under consideration and the final decision will be taken after further discussions.