Finance Minister Dr. Thomas Isaac says move is based on ‘false prestige’ and the govt has ‘no right to curb Kerala’s appeal for more financial assistance’.
Alappuzha: Kerala’s finance minister Dr. Thomas Isaac Wednesday termed the Centre’s decision to turn down foreign aid for the state — including Rs 700 crore pledged by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — as unfortunate and hinged on “false prestige”.
“It is very unfortunate and India should not adopt this sort of attitude. The central government has its limitations; it can offer only Rs 500 crore. Why should it then prevent other countries, where many Malayalees live, and which are concerned with the well-being of Kerala, from offering help,” he asked.
The UAE is among countries such as Qatar (Rs 35 crore) and Maldives ($50,000) that have offered financial assistance for relief and rehabilitation, following the floods that have devastated the state.
India has taken the stand that it is “grateful” but will not accept help from other countries. This, however, is not the first time that India has refused help. During the 2013 Uttarakhand floods too it declined financial aid from abroad.
Isaac, however, said that the Centre’s stand was based on nothing but a kind of “false prestige” and that it had “no right to curb Kerala’s appeal for more financial assistance”.
On whether the state would aggressively raise the issue with the Centre, Isaac said: “We don’t want to pick a fight with the Centre at this moment. The Centre and state should stand together at this time of need. We have our reservations on what has been provided by the Centre and we want it to permit the outside world to help Kerala. I hope they take a more positive attitude.”
He also said he was humbled by the support for the state from across the world.
Relief from the gulf
On Tuesday, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan announced that the UAE’S Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum had offered financial assistance of Rs 700 crore for the state.
The Crown prince of UAE and the deputy supreme commander of the armed forces Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed had also communicated his government’s decision to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“As we celebrate Eid-al-Adha, we do not want to forget our brothers in India. The people of Kerala have always been and are still part of our success story in the UAE. We have a special responsibility to help and support those who are affected, especially during these holy and blessed days,” Maktoum had tweeted.
The region and Kerala enjoy close ties. Close to three million Indians live in the Persian Gulf region, of whom, 80 per cent are from Kerala. The state’s economy is also largely dependent on foreign remittances that range anywhere between Rs 45,000 to Rs 50,000 crore every year. This makes up for 31 per cent of the state’s GDP.