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Regular-article-logo Monday, 22 July 2024

Didi writes to PM for Rs 25,000 cr

State govt in a 'dire situation with practically no revenue flows after the closure of almost all business'

Pranesh Sarkar Calcutta Published 01.04.20, 10:26 PM
Mamata Banerjee

Mamata Banerjee Telegraph picture

Mamata Banerjee wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Wednesday urging him to grant at least Rs 25,000 crore to Bengal without any delay and clear all dues as the finances of the state government were in a “dire situation with practically no revenue flows after the closure of almost all business”.

“Therefore, i earnestly urge you to sanction a grant of a minimum of Rs 25,000 crore for the state of West Bengal and release the funds still due to us from GoI (government of India), as per my earlier letter to you,” read the letter by the Bengal chief minister.

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Mamata said Bengal was yet to get Rs 11,000 crore under the devolution of central taxes. Moreover, the chief minister mentioned that a sum of Rs 36,000 from the Centre under various schemes was pending.

“We cannot hold back the fight against the novel coronavirus because of paucity of funds. The chief minister wrote the letter seeking funds only after it was realised that the state is facing a shortage of funds at a time a lot of actions are required to stop Covid-19,” said a senior state government official.

The state had set up an emergency fund of Rs 200 crore to fight Covid-19 initially. But the fund appeared to be meagre as the government had to buy several personal protective equipments (PPEs) for the medical staff, in addition to masks, gloves and sanitisers. Besides, the Mamata Banerjee government had to spend huge amounts on setting up quarantine centres and isolation wards at different hospitals across Bengal.

“The burden of the state would have been eased had the Centre given equipments or funds. As the state had to buy all these things on its own, money is required,” said a senior official.

Last week, the chief minister had written to Modi urging him to release Rs 1,500 crore to deal with the pandemic and raise the borrowing limit of the state from 3 per cent to five percent of its GDP.

Sources said none of the demands had been entertained by the Centre so far and that was why the chief minister was forced to write another letter. Mamata pointed out in her second letter that she had repeatedly urged Modi to release pending amounts under devolution of central taxes and several central schemes.

“You will recall that prior to the current COVID19 pandemic and lockdown, the GoI had already reduced their devolution to our state by over Rs 11,000 crore and were yet to pay Rs 36,000 crore owned by the GoI to our state. I had written to you and handed over the letter in person to you in Kolkata which contained the details, urging you to release all the funds owed to us and give us the devolution as per the Budget Estimate of GoI,” the chief minister wrote.

Mamata announced free ration to nearly 8 crore people in the state during the lockdown. Moreover, she wants to give two months’ pension to all beneficiaries of social pension schemes, in addition to all other benefits to the common people during the lockdown.

“If people could be assured that they wont be deprived of anything during the lockdown, the target of achieving social distance could be achieved,” said a senior government official.

“Besides, funds are required to develop infrastructure in the health sector to battle the virus.”

Mamata said “to uphold the spirit of Cooperative Federalism, we need this minimum support from the central government to cope with this unprecedented impasse at this hour to fight against COVID-19 pandemic”.

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