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Mamata Govt Demands Restructuring of Bengal’s Debt, Finance Commission Takes Serious Note

on Tuesday, the Bengal government made an assertive and vehement case for its debt waiver or restructuring before the 15th Finance Commission.

Sougata Mukhopadhyay | News18.com

Updated:July 17, 2018, 11:10 PM IST
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Mamata Govt Demands Restructuring of Bengal’s Debt, Finance Commission Takes Serious Note
File image of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
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Kolkata: In an attempt to pull out Bengal from its overwhelming debt trap situation, Trinamool Congress leaders finally explored a solution instead of the usual practice crying hoarse about the Centre’s ‘policy paralysis’ or demanding financial assistance from the Prime Minister.

On Tuesday, the Bengal government made an assertive and vehement case for its debt waiver or restructuring before the 15th Finance Commission. The Commission promised the government that it would “explore all possible ways within its mandate” to find a way out.

Finance Commission chairman NK Singh said: “The government of West Bengal brought out very forcefully the need for the finance commission to look at the legacy issue and innovative ways in which it could be redressed so that it does not make a permanent drag on the economy of West Bengal’s economy”.

He was speaking to reporters after meeting chief minister Mamata Banerjee at state secretariat Nabanna on the last day of the panel’s three-day visit to the state.

He further added, “And if interest payment on past debt forecloses a large part of the government’s revenues then that is a drag on which they would like to see a structural solution.”

Mamata Banerjee allegedly inherited a debt of around Rs 2 lakh crore from the erstwhile Left Front government when it assumed power back in 2011.

According to the latest budget figures placed by the Trinamool government, the state had an outstanding debt of Rs 3.64 lakh crore, which is projected to go up to Rs 3.94 lakh crore in the current fiscal.

“In the last 7 years the state repaid Rs 2.25 lakh crore in interest and capital. This financial year itself, it is Rs. 46,000 crore,” read a note from the government which summarised the key points that Banerjee made before the Commission on Tuesday.

“You can imagine that with this huge debt burden thrust upon us, how this government is struggling to fulfil the mandate of the people of the state,” the note further read.

Asked whether the 15th Finance Commission would consider recommending moratorium on state debts, Singh said: “We cannot talk about our recommendation. We will make them only before the President.”

As part of her demands before the Commission, Banerjee has also asked for an increase in share of states in the divisible pool of taxes from 42 per cent to 50 per cent and suggested that the pool be itself augmented by including cess and surcharges.​

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| Edited by: Naqshib Nisar
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