THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Within an hour of Finance Minister TM Thomas Isaac ridiculing the Opposition leader on Sunday saying that the latter is trying to escape from the embarrassment of the Congress-BJP understanding being exposed with the Comptroller and Auditor General's draft report on KIIFB, Ramesh Chennithala said the minister has flouted his constitutional responsibility.
Chennithala said Isaac does not have the right to continue in office as he has leaked the details of the CAG draft report on Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) even before it was tabled in the assembly or discussed by the cabinet. Addressing a joint press meet here with UDF convener MM Hassan, he also sought a copy of the draft report.
By saying that the SNC-Lavalin corruption allegations were raised by the Opposition based on the CAG report in the late 1990s, Isaac’s lowly "political wickedness" has been exposed. Isaac is not targeting him by raising the case, but Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan.
"Isaac is deliberately trying to help Swapna Suresh, key accused in the gold smuggling case, M Sivasankar, former principal secretary to the chief minister, and also Bineesh Kodiyeri who is allegedly involved in gold smuggling and drug cases. When the CAG caught Isaac red-handed for illegalities in the KIIFB’s functioning, he is creating a furore," said Chennithala.
Hassan also alleged corruption in all KIIFB projects. He said Isaac is playing smart by raising allegations against CAG before the constitutional body exposed the corruption in KIIFB. "The CAG has every right to point out loans taken by KIIFB unconstitutionally and check its accounts. It is inappropriate on the part of the LDF government to take cudgels against the CAG. We will oppose such moves," said Hassan.
Chennithala also came out with figures pertaining to KIIFB, saying it has raised Rs 16,000 crore from Masala Bonds so far, of which Rs 6,000 crore has been awarded for projects while Rs 10,000 crore is parked in banks. At the same time, KIIFB has given the nod for Rs 60,000 crore worth of projects. If this is not deceiving the public, what it is, he asked.
The KIIFB has spent Rs 74.09 lakh and Rs 25.33 crore towards publicity in 2019 and until March this year, respectively. Besides, a whopping Rs 100 crore has been spent towards advertising since March this year.
"The investment returns under KIIFB begin after two years. The money raised and the interest will have to be repaid by the next government. Also, we have come to know that Rs 11 lakh in fee has since been given to the legal firm of Gautam Adani's daughter-in-law Paridhi, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas, for providing legal advice on Masala Bonds. It should be recalled that the same company had given legal advice to the government on bidding for the Trivandrum International Airport operations and management, which it lost," added Chennithala.