Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala Assembly witnessed heated exchanges between the opposition and ruling benches today as the Opposition leader accused the government of corruption in the issue of Masala Bonds by the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB). He also said that high interest rate has brought financial burden on Kerala.
Kerala Government’s decision to issue Masala Bonds at an astounding interest rate of 9.732% had invited criticism from day one. Besides, CDPQ a Canadian company with interest in SNC Lavalin company also raised the specter of doubt even before the elections.
Citing the confusion and secrecy behind the Masala Bond issue, the opposition demanded discussion on it. The government relented and during the discussion the opposition had raised serious allegations against the Finance Minister.
The Finance Minister, Thomas Isaac, was accused of lying before concerning the bond issue. He had lied that CDPQ had no relation with blacklisted company SNC Lavalin when in reality CDPQ has a major stake in it.
Thomas Isaac had claimed that CDPQ was just a pension fund company when the truth is that the company operates in real estate and infrastructure development under the name CDPQ Infra. On top of it all, SNC Lavalin is the company that executes CDPQ Infra’s infrastructure works.
The Minister had also lied that the Masala Bond issue was public when it was in reality a private issue.
The Finance Minister also mislead the public by saying that the interest rate of 9.732% was the least.
K. S. Sabarinath MLA who spoke in the special discussion said that the KIIFB-issued Masala Bond had the highest interest rate in London Stock Exchange. He said that in five years Kerala will pay high interest rate because of this. He also said that CDPQ which has bought most of the bonds, has a stake of 20% in SNC Lavalin.
The opposition demanded that 4 MLAs be given access to all the documents related to the bond issue. The Finance Minister has said that any MLA can come and examine any document related to it. There is no record of how much bonds were purchased by CDPQ.