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Government-Opposition spar over audit of KIIFB


Thiruvananthapuram: The ongoing difference of opinion between two heavyweight CPI-M ministers in Kerala was on Tuesday used effectively by the Congress-led opposition on the floor of the assembly, forcing the Speaker P. Sreeramakrishnan to adjourn the House for the day, after he disallowed an adjournment motion over the CAG audit of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board.

State Finance Minister Thomas Issac and PWD Minister G. Sudhakaran, both hailing from Alappuzha district, have not had the best of relations and have been engaged in shadow boxing. The present face-off between the two is over the affairs of Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB), the pet project of Issac.

Sudhakaran breathed fire over the way an official at KIIFB was playing spoilsport to activities in his department, but the officials of KIIFB defended it and wrote on their Facebook page that they are empowered to take cognisance of all work cleared by them.

Driving a wedge between the two CPI-M ministers, Leader of Opposition Ramesh Chennithala had gone public that it's not the KIIFB which is creating problems but its Issac creating issues for Sudhakaran.

On Tuesday, making use of this difference of opinion, senior Congress legislator V.D. Sateeshan wanted to move an adjournment motion demanding a Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit of all the work undertaken by the KIIFB, especially at Kannur International Airport Limited (KIAL) that opened recently, but it was denied, bringing the entire opposition to the well of the House.

Chennithala said that the Speaker is denying the basic rights of the opposition.

Following the stand-off between the opposition and the Speaker, the latter adjourned the House for the day.

"Now things are very clear, Issac wants to hide and is scared of these two organisations to undergo a CAG audit and the Speaker is playing the perfect role in taking us on," said Chennithala.

But the Speaker stood his ground and said that this issue had come up before the assembly and the rules do not permit it to be taken up again.

Issac, however, pointed out that he has already written to the CAG to conduct the audit and is waiting for the reply from them.

The Congress party, which sought Governor Arif Mohammed Khan's intervention to ensure that the CAG audit takes place in the two state-run organisations, is now waiting to hear from him.

The CAG is a constitutional body and it is duty bound to audit all those organisations where the state owns more than 51 per cent stake. But the Pinarayi Vijayan government has not adhered to it and has kept both the KIIFB and the KIAL away from the CAG audit since it came to power in 2016.

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