Thiruvananthapuram | Kerala Finance Minister K N Balagopal on Thursday said that while the government guarantees loans taken by departments, it is the primarily the responsibility of those departments to settle liabilities, and not that of the state.
The minister said that some state entities might be facing losses, but that does not mean the guarantee given by the government has to be invoked right away.
The departments concerned can address the issue at their level by restructuring their assets, Balagopal said while speaking to reporters.
He was responding to reporters' queries regarding an affidavit placed before the Kerala High Court by the government which said that the state is presently facing financial constraints, and any monetary benefit has to be allowed within the financial resources available with it.
The affidavit was filed in connection with a matter related to repaying a depositor of the Kerala Transport Development Finance Corporation (KTDFC) Ltd.
The government had told the court that the KTDFC and the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) can mortgage their property or sell one or two items of their assets to outside parties or government agencies to solve their financial issues.
"Even though the government is supporting Public Sector Undertakings, including KSRTC, in various ways, it is obvious that the government is not legally bound to give financial support to meet its day-to-day affairs," it had said in the affidavit.
He also dismissed the Congress-led UDF opposition's allegation that the Keraleeyam 2023 celebrations were an extravagant expenditure by the Left administration at a time the state is going through a huge financial crisis.
The minister said that Keraleeyam, which commenced from November 1, was the showcasing of the state's progress, achievements, and cultural heritage to the world. "We have to showcase all that to the world," he said emphatically.
Balagopal also sought to reassure the public that despite the financial constraints of the state, the next installment of the welfare pension would be paid soon -- "definitely before Christmas".
He said that the government was going ahead with its welfare measures despite not having received around Rs 30,000 crore from the Centre which it is entitled to.
Balagopal said the Centre has also not provided its share of funds for the National Health Mission (NHM) since the start of the current financial year. Therefore, the state government has sanctioned Rs 50 crore in advance of the central allocation to ensure the NHM project is not stalled, he said.
The minister said that the central share in the NHM is Rs 371 crore, which was to be made available in four installments. "But not a rupee has been sanctioned till now," the minister's office said in a statement.
Due to non-receipt of the Central allocation, it is getting difficult to pay for medicines procured under NHM, and arrears of wages of Asha workers and 108 emergency ambulance drivers are getting accumulated, the statement said.