Bengaluru: Kerala’s ruling Left parties are debating the merits of having Harvard economist Gita Gopinath as financial adviser to the state’s communist chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan after she made a remark on government spending.

Gopinath flagged off concerns about the state’s growing expenditure, effectively pointing toward the government’s extensive welfare spending, while talking to reporters on Saturday.

“There is a considered expectation that when GST (goods and services tax) becomes normalized, the state will get more revenue... But we will also have to make sure that expenses are kept in check. This is not just about getting more revenue, but you have to be careful about how expenditure is growing," Gopinath said, reported Press Trust of India.

Gopinath’s comments assume importance in the background of an acute financial crisis faced by the Kerala government. It is currently among the states with the highest revenue deficits.

“She (Gopinath) is chief minister’s financial adviser, not LDF’s (ruling Left Democratic Front)," Communist Party of India state secretary Kanam Rajendran said on Tuesday.

It is up to the government to take her policy suggestions seriously but not without thorough discussions in the Front, he added.

The CPI mouthpiece Janayugom newspaper on Monday explained in an editorial why it is worried about suggestions to cut spending. Without naming Gopinath, it urged the government to be cautious. There cannot be two opinions about the need to cut down unwanted luxuries and other avoidable spending by the government, the editorial said.

The projection of welfare measures as a burden on the government, and talk about ending such expenditures through austerity measures and cutting down pensions, salaries, subsidies etc, are the hallmark of economic reforms that have brought only suffering for the poor in capitalist countries, it added.

Such pieces of advice are unrealistic and are akin to turning one section of the society against another, said the editorial.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader said he does not expect any major policy diversions by the government because of Gopinath’s remarks.

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