New Delhi, Mar 23 (PTI): The Union government on Saturday sought to dismiss West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee's charges that her state is getting step motherly treatment, pointing out that central funds are allocated in line with the recommendations of the Finance Commission.
”There is and there can be no step motherly attitude. Funds are given to states as per the Finance Commission recommendations. No state is preferred, no state is discriminated against,” Finance Minister P Chidambaram said when asked to comment on Mamata's charge, during the National Editors conference here.
He said in fact no government could change the formula for allocations of funds.
”So the charge of discrimination is wrong and I reject the charge,” he said.
The Trinamool Congress, which rules West Bengal, attacked Chidambaram saying “the Finance Minister is skirting the facts and playing political games instead”.
Addressing the media at the National Editor's Conference here, Chidambaram said that in fact West Bengal is seeking a special assistance to deal with its debt burden.
”You must understand that this debt was incurred by the state because of borrowings in the past. Now that debt has to be financed by the state itself,” the Minister said, adding, he has never favoured the idea of special packages for states.
The Mamata Banerjee government, which came to power in 2011, is facing a huge debt of about Rs 2 lakh crore and has been demanding special package in the form of interest moratorium.
Chidambaram said that, besides West Bengal, some other states too are facing debt problems. ”Therefore, we have asked the 14th Finance Commission to look into the problems of debt stressed states and advise the government how to deal with it,” he said.
Trinamool member of Parliament Derek 'Brien Trinamool said “the experienced Finance Minister has got his facts completely wrong”.
He said the Finance Commission clearly spells out that there are six different ways of dealing with debt restructuring, which includes debt moratorium and other methods.
”Secondly, it is the Finance Commission vide a government order that has mentioned Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal as debt stressed sates.
“Of these 3 states classified in this sub-set, West Bengal has the highest debt-GDP ratio,” he said, adding the KPW (Kerala, Punjab, Bengal) Committee which has been constituted has met only once.