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Amit Mitra named Principal Chief Advisor to West Bengal CM and finance dept

Mitra will have the rank of cabinet minister in the statem will advise and aid the Chief Minister and finance dept on all matters relating to management of state finance

Amit Mitra | West Bengal

Ishita Ayan Dutt  |  Kolkata 

West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra | File photo
West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra | File photo

Amit Mitra, whose tenure as finance minister ended, has been appointed Principal Chief Advisor to Chief Minister and finance department of

Mitra will hold the rank of a cabinet minister of the state, a notification on Tuesday said. According to a government notification, he will advise and aid the Chief Minister and finance department on all matters relating to management of state finance.

His responsibilities will also include representing the state government on and international events/meetings /committees as per the desire of the state government. He will also examine important proposals/files and policy issues relating to all financial matters which are referred to him for advice/views.

The finance department is likely to be retained by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and Chandrima Bhattacharya is likely to take charge as MoS finance, government sources indicated.

Mitra did not contest the assembly elections held in April-May and, like Banerjee, who lost in Nandigram by a narrow margin, had to be re-elected as an MLA to continue in office. That window closed on Tuesday.

Questions about his continuance in office started surfacing around February when Banerjee presented the budget in the assembly. Mitra stayed away from the assembly on health grounds, but later fielded questions on the budget at a virtual press conference. Post-elections, too, the budget was tabled by industry minister, Partha Chatterjee.

A PhD in economics from Duke University, USA, it is well known in business and political circles that there is hardly anyone in the Trinamool who can replace Mitra. According to sources, the party had reached out to other economists, but that did not yield success.

A two-time MLA from Khardah, near Kolkata, Mitra has been with the Trinamool since it came to power in in 2011. In fact, Mitra’s association with Banerjee goes back to 2009 when she was Railways minister at the Centre.

In the last 10 years, however, Mitra has walked a tightrope between debt repayment and budgeting for social and welfare schemes that have been largely credited for the win of his party.

The government’s social service expenditure stood at around 50 per cent in the last budget. Mitra – who has been advocating demand side stimulation especially during Covid-19 pandemic – believes that the various schemes have put money in the hands of people.

Mitra’s performance as the finance minister had got him the industry portfolio in 2013. In 2018, he was also given charge of information technology. He held the two portfolios till the elections.

But perhaps, his biggest achievement was to increase the state’s tax collection on the back of better administration and e-governance. In 2010-2011, state tax collection had stood at Rs 21,128.74 crore and is estimated to increase to Rs 75,416 crore in 2021-2022.

Even as his tenure as finance minister comes to an end, from the notification it is clear that he will continue to play an important role in the Banerjee government.

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First Published: Tue, November 09 2021. 18:40 IST