Govt. clears the air on masala bonds

Isaac puts up a spirited defence in favour of KIIFB to cap the row

The State government has gained a clear political edge over the Opposition’s bid to bring its resource-mopping drive under a cloud and steered clear of the row over floating masala bonds.

An adjournment motion moved by K. Sabarinathan in the Assembly on Tuesday on the “mystery and lack of clarity on the bond issue’’ came in handy for Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac and other Left Democratic Front (LDF) members to put up a spirited defence in favour of the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) and cap the controversy over the bonds stirred up by Leader of the Opposition Ramesh Chennithala during the course of the Lok Sabha election campaign.

The United Democratic Front (UDF) which had been consistently raising the SNC-Lavalin case in all the elections to put the CPI(M) and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the dock, deftly used the masala bond issue in the recent Lok Sabha election as well. Though it was drowned in the cacophony of the campaign, Dr. Isaac had to do considerable explaining to convince the electorate that the government had not struck any deal with the SNC-Lavalin company.

The Opposition had raised doubts about the company’s, Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (CDPQ), links with SNC-Lavalin in support of its arguments. Dr. Isaac rolled out the list of investments the company had in various sectors, including in India, to defuse the Opposition argument against the government.

The discussion on the floor of the House attained ideological overtones, challenged the stance of the CPI and CPI(M) on neo-liberal reforms, the relevance of Marxism and whether the Left parties had compromised on their stated positions on the reforms to keep themselves afloat.

But Dr. Isaac drew a clear distinction between the neo-liberalistic approach being pursued by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and others, and how the State proffered a development alternative by using the funds borrowed from the market to fund its development needs.

A.N. Shamseer, Mullakkara Retnakaran and M. Swaraj came to the defence of the government.

Dr. Isaac’s observation that the Opposition’s refrain on SNC-Lavalin in every election lacked substance to browbeat the government and LDF and the call for unity beyond political considerations for the State’s development brought a conclusion to the discussion.

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