The Kerala Government's mission to send a jumbo team of ministers abroad to seek funds for rebuilding Kerala after the devastating floods has run into rough weather.
The Union Government has given clearance only to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and diplomatic permission and visa for the 17 other ministers is yet to come with just a few days left for their proposed trip. The Central nod would have to come latest by Wednesday. Sources in the government were keeping their fingers crossed and feared the approval might not come.
Under the original plan, the Chief Minister and 17 of his Cabinet colleagues were to visit countries where there was a huge Malayali population and seek funds from them for the rebuilding exercise. The State expected to garner around Rs. 5,000 crore. Pinarayi had done the spade work in the US when he had gone for treatment recently. Finance Minister Thomas Isaac was scheduled to leave for the US.
It was around a fortnight ago that the proposal was sent. With Pinarayi having got the Central go-ahead, though with riders, he is expected to be in the UAE on October 17.
The Centre had made it clear that Pinarayi should attend only meetings related to flood relief. He should also not take part in any official meeting.
He will visit Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah and meet leading NRI businessmen.
The Chief Minister had immediately after the flood in mid-August announced that the UAE was willing to donate Rs 700 crore towards Kerala's flood relief works. But this landed in a controversy as the Centre stood by an earlier policy that it could not accept foreign aid.
While the Centre was yet to give the nod for other ministers to go abroad for flood relief funds, it has also not considered the State Government proposal to raise the borrowing limit to 4.5 per cent from the present 3 per cent.
It will be double whammy for the State as the Centre turns down the two proposals, jeopardising the plans for rebuilding the State that suffered a loss of around Rs 50,000 crore in the August floods.