Reiterating the Trinamool Congress demand for a special economic package for West Bengal, party secretary-general and Industries Minister Partha Chatterjee said here on Friday that Union Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee had not provided any relief to the State in the Union Budget.
“West Bengal is a debt-stressed state. The Central government has not at all considered this in this year's Budget. There is also no mention of the restructuring of debt,” Mr. Chatterjee told journalists.
The budget, he said, however, “is tolerable in the present context.”
Mr. Chatterjee said “we have written tonnes of letters to the Centre to draw its attention to the issue of the State's debt as well as raised the matter in every meeting, but it has been to no avail.”
Ever since the Trinamool-led government came to power in the State, the party has been complaining about how its coalition partner, the Congress, has not lived up to its electoral promise of providing full financial assistance to West Bengal.
In her recent public addresses, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has been stressing that she has had to work “alone” in times of severe financial crisis “without any assistance.”
Although the Centre has provided funds to the State under the Backward Regions Grant Fund, it has been pressing for a three-year moratorium on interest payments.
Mr. Chatterjee said his party had reservations on other issues, including the decision on the reduction of interest rates on the Employees' Provident Fund ahead of the budget, the introduction of cash subsidies for LPG and kerosene and the fact that there is no allotment for food subsidies that may be provided in the Food Security Bill.
Mr. Chatterjee said there was no clarity on the mechanism by which food subsidies will be provided under the Bill and whether the State government will be expected to bear the burden.
He also expressed apprehensions that the introduction of cash subsidies on LPG and kerosene may facilitate the eventual withdrawal of subsidies on these products.