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Britain to step up aid

Calcutta, June 3: Britain’s Department for International Development (DFID) wants to step up its grants to the state to Rs 500 crore annually in the next four years.

Charlotte Seymour-Smith, the British minister (development) and head of the department, said at Writers’ Buildings today: “If our plans come to fruition, it is possible to increase the annual grant, which was Rs 70 crore last year.”

Seymour-Smith met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and industries minister Nirupam Sen today.

Later, the new department head called on health minister Surjya Kanta Mishra and finance minister Asim Dasgupta. The British minister was accompanied by deputy high commissioner Andrew Hall at the meetings.

Seymour-Smith said: “We want to help Bengal’s efforts in poverty eradication and provide support in areas like urban services, rural decentralisation, health, public sector enterprises, education and the like.” This is the development department head’s first visit to the Bengal.

Asked about the restructuring of some public sector units in the state, Seymour-Smith said: “We are on the verge of giving a small grant and hope to expand it later.”

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