Borrowing capacity: Kerala govt to approach Centre to verify claims of V Muraleedharan

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KN Balagopal, V Muraleedharan | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Thiruvananthapuram: The LDF government has decided to seek details from the Centre regarding amounts that Kerala can borrow in the financial year 2023-24 as the figures have not yet been provided to it, State Finance Minister K N Balagopal said on Tuesday.

Balagopal said that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan chaired a meeting earlier in the day to discuss the calculations referred to by Union Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs V Muraleedharan at a press conference a day ago.

At the meeting, officials told the CM that no such calculations or figures were shared by the Centre with the State and therefore those details would be sought from the central government, the minister said.

On Monday, Muraleedharan had claimed that Kerala was allowed to borrow Rs 55,182 crore in the financial year 2023-24 and out of that, the state has already taken around Rs 34,661 crore, leaving a balance of Rs 20,521 crore from which Rs 15,390 crore has been sanctioned for the first three quarters of the financial year.

The Union MoS had also said that the remaining Rs 5,131 crore would be given to the state in the last quarter of the financial year.

Questioning the basis for these figures and the calculations behind it, Balagopal said these amounts are not mentioned in the two letters sent to the state by the Centre in March and May this year.

He claimed that unlike last year, this time no statement of accounts or calculations were attached to the May 26 letter which only stated that out of the Rs 15,390 crore, the state may only borrow Rs 13,390 after deducting the Rs 2,000 crore sanctioned in April.

"It does not say we will get Rs 5,131 crore in the last quarter or how the figure of Rs 15,390 crore was arrived at. Moreover, we have not received any communication which states that Rs 55,182 crore was sanctioned for Kerala in the financial year 2023-24," Balagopal said at a press conference held here.

"In such a scenario, the statements made by the Union MoS a day ago are baseless, unconstitutional, highly irresponsible in view of the position he holds and aimed at misleading the people," the minister added.

Muraleedharan, on Monday, had also claimed that it was the "financial mismanagement and extravagance" of the LDF government that resulted in the financial crisis Kerala was facing and it was the reason for the state's huge debt.

He also refuted the allegations of the ruling Left government in Kerala that the Centre had reduced the borrowing capacity of the state.

The same day, Balagopal issued a statement hitting back at the minister by alleging that he was trying to mislead people and achieve political gains through such "baseless and objectionable" claims.

During the press conference held here on Tuesday, the state finance minister said that while there has been a reduction in the borrowing percentage of Kerala in FY 2023-24, the amount was similar to last year as there has been a significant economic growth in the southern state.

He contended that Kerala accounts for more than 65 per cent of its revenue expenditure from out of its own pocket unlike several other states which are heavily dependent upon the Centre for their finances.

Balagopal alleged that there was an "imbalance" and "arbitrariness" in allocating shares from the central taxes to the states, with Kerala's portions being reduced every year.

Last week, the state finance minister had contended that there was a reduction in Kerala's borrowing limits and that it was "part of the Union government's political vendetta".

A couple of days later, CM Vijayan had termed the Centre's alleged reduction in the state's borrowing capacity a "sadistic" move.


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