Modi minister vs Kerala minister over decision to reject foreign aid
Tourism minister said Modi government “inherited” policy from previous governments.Updated: Aug 23, 2018 19:14 IST
Under fire for refusing aid for flood-hit Kerala from countries like the UAE and Thailand, Union Tourism Minister Alphons Kannanthanam said on Thursday that the Centre followed a 14-year convention started by the previous governments of not accepting such assistance in the face of natural calamities.
Alphons said the the government followed the policy former prime minister Manmohan Singh had adopted when he refused aid from foreign countries in 2004 in the wake of the devastating tsunami.
“A policy decision was taken by the Manmohan Singh government in December, 2004 in the aftermath of the tsunami and that policy has been continued with for the last 14 years. This is something we have inherited,” he told reporters.
Alphons also appealed to all Indians to donate generously to rebuild Kerala.
“We need huge amounts of money -- millions and billions of dollars to rebuild Kerala. Now we need that big money. Please send money to the chief minister’s relief fund and not to NGOs that are not credible,” he said.
The Centre’s refusal to accept foreign financial help evoked criticism from many quarters. Among those who questioned the Centre’s decision was Kerala’s Finance Minister Thomas Isaac. He said the rain and flood ravaged state had asked the central government for a financial support of Rs 2,200 crore, but was granted only Rs 600 crore.
On Twitter, Isaac described the Centre’s refusal to accept foreign aid as a “is a dog in the manger policy.”
He had further said as part of the state government’s resource mobilisation efforts for the ongoing relief-and-rescue operations for the flood-hit people, it had increased the excise duty on liquor and would approach the GST Council for imposing a 10-per cent cess on SGST. “Both together on annualised basis mobilise ₹750 crore,” Isaac wrote.
More than 240 people were killed in flood and landslides triggered by incessant rains between August 8 and August 18.