Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee launched a strident attack on the Left rule in Kerala and West Bengal on Sunday, warning that the Left parties returning to power would lead the States to a “substantial debt trap.”

At a press conference here, Mr. Mukherjee, quoting official figures of the Planning Commission and the Finance Commissions, sought to put development issues back on the centre stage of an acrimonious campaign in Kerala, picking holes in the State's plan funds spending and allocations of the Finance Commission. “The Left parties are asking for a mandate to continue their rule. Continuation of what? Non-development?,” he asked. Kerala failed to achieve plan targets in all five years of the current Plan period. In the case of externally aided projects, Kerala had got Rs.1,448 crore during 2008-09, but could spend only Rs. 644 crore; in 2009-10, it was Rs.1,134 crore and Rs.355 crore respectively. In the case of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which has a 100 per cent Central grant, the State spent only Rs. 60 crore and Rs. 80 crore during 2009-10 and 2010-11 out of the Rs. 485 crore allotted during each of these years. The debt-GDP ratio of Kerala and West Bengal was 29.57 and 38.05 per cent as against the national average of 24.3 per cent, he said.

Mr. Mukherjee said the States could not complain about not getting resources from the Centre: for Kerala alone, the devolution of funds under the 12{+t}{+h} Finance Commission was Rs.19,607 crore. And this went up to Rs.40,325 crore under the 13{+t}{+h} Finance Commission.

There was no basis for the State government's charge that Central government schemes were not suitable for Kerala because the State plans were approved by the National Development Council.

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