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Dasgupta rebuffs Mitra's accusations on debt burden

BS Reporter  |  Kolkata 

In a rebuttal to accusations by the West Bengal government that the earlier Left Front government has thrust a huge debt burden on West Bengal, Asim Dasgupta, former finance minister of West Bengal said that the huge debt was on account of salary pay revision and denial of coal royalty amounting to Rs 5,000 crore

Meanwhile, Amit Mitra, finance minister of West Bengal reiterated that the state's debt would increase to more than Rs 2,00,000 crore this year, due to huge liabilities of the earlier Left Front government. Also, the embargo on Rs 3,500 crore bill payment was lifted today he said.

Yesterday, Mitra had said accumulated liabilities of the state from November 2010, till March 2011 stood at Rs 3,500 crore as no bills were paid from the treasury.

In response, Dasgupta at a press meet said that the unpaid bills of Rs 3,500 crore was on account of a waiting period.

“There is some waiting period for the bills,” said Dasgupta.

The former finance minister also said that this year the debt burden of the state was likely to be around Rs 1,92,000 crore, against Rs 1,86,000 crore last financial year.

“Last year was a difficult year, because we had to take into account increased salaries. In any year, in the first few months, the borrowings are more. It is not correct to say that for the whole year the debt will be high,” said Dasgupta. He said that Rs 4,000 crore was spend on social sector schemes between January-March 2011, and the treasury operations never came to a halt.

Recently, Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had said short, medium and long term measures would be required to revive West Bengal finances. The West Bengal government is also set to present a detailed vision document, in the form of a package, stating its plans to put to the finances back on track.

Subsidised rice
The ruling Trinamool Congrees government in West Bengal today extended the subsidised rice scheme for the poor to include a larger population in the low-income group.

For the tribals, the income eligibility for getting rice at Rs two per kg had been raised from Rs 24,000 per year to Rs 42,000 per annum. For people other than the tribals, the income eligibility has been set at 36,000 per annum.

"We have decided to widen the ambit of beneficiaries of cheap food supplies," Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee told reporters here today.

After a meeting with the Food and Supplies Minister Jyotipriya Mallick, she said that the scheme would initially be introduced in West Midnapore, Bankura and Purulia districts.

First Published: Thu, June 02 2011. 00:53 IST
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