The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Front to discuss fiscal note
- Meeting on economic crisis inconclusive

Calcutta, Oct. 7: Finance minister Asim Dasgupta will prepare a note on the prevailing economic situation in the state and place it before Left Front leaders after the pujas.

On the basis of the note, the leaders of the ruling front will discuss the financial problem plaguing the state and offer their views.

The Left Front met at the CPM headquarters on Alimuddin Street this morning to discuss the problems. Chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and panchayat minister Surjya Kanta Mishra were present.

The meeting, however, remained inconclusive as neither Dasgupta nor any front leader could offer any durable solution to the problem. The front will meet again after the pujas to deliberate on the crisis.

Front chairman Biman Bose said that though state government employees were getting their monthly salaries, there had been delay in disbursement due to the financial crisis.

“But think about the government employees in Orissa, where salaries are lying pending for the past four months. Government employees in Jharkhand are not getting their salaries for the past one year. The employees of Bihar and Assam are facing similar problems. In Bengal, the government is paying the salaries, though there has been some delay,” Bose said.

“Our financial condition will never be like that of Bihar and Orissa. We still believe that we would be able to pay salaries to the employees. In fact, our government has started releasing the salaries from today,” the front chairman added.

Dasgupta, who addressed the meeting today, suggested a two-point programme to overcome the financial crisis. “On the one hand, we have to find out more and more avenues to earn money and, on the other, the government would have to curtail expenditure at any cost,” the finance minister told front leaders.

Dasgupta also explained to the gathering that the government would have to reduce the debt burden to revive the fiscal situation.

Dasgupta expressed his displeasure over the style of functioning of some panchayat sabhadhipatis and the financial expenditure incurred by them on running the local administration.

“I have seen many sabhadhipatis indulge in wasteful expenditure like lavish decorations while inaugurating something as mundane as small culverts. Many of them also live in palatial buildings at the cost of public money,” the finance minister told the leaders.

Dasgupta said the Centre’s economic policy was responsible for the financial crisis of the state government.

“All the 28 states in the country are facing the problem of financial crisis and we are no exception. But it is the Union government which is responsible for our crisis,” he said.

Mishra said there was no question of advancing the date of panchayat elections scheduled to be held next year.

“We have to fix the election date after consulting the dates of Madhyamik and Higher Secondary examinations so that examinees don’t feel disturbed due to the polls,” Bose later told reporters.

CPI and Forward Bloc leaders, who had earlier expressed their displeasure over the government’s decision to cut puja bonus by 50 per cent without consulting them, today tried to raise the issue during the meeting.

But Bose reportedly assured them that such things will not happen in future and that front leaders will be consulted by the government before any important decision is taken.

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