Planning Commission deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia refused to play ball to West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s demand on three year moratorium of repayment of loan while hiking the state annual plan by 16% to Rs 25,910 crore.
It means that the Central government has increased West Bengal’s annual outlay by around 36% since Banerjee took over as chief minister. The annual plan was decided in a meeting between Ahluwalia and Banerjee.
Sources said that Banerjee raised the issue of annual repayment of Rs 20,000 crore for outstanding loans of around Rs 2,00,000 crore when the state government’s annual income was just Rs 21,000 crore.
She sought Ahluwalia’s support for three year moratorium for the re-payment. Her logic was that in three years the government will improve state finances and would be able to repay the loan.
She blamed the Left parties 30 year rule for huge loan burden on the state. “We have not created this problem. It is a Left legacy,” she told reporters after the meeting.
Sympathizing with her, Ahluwalia remained non-committal and said that the decision on the moratorium was in the realm of the Finance Ministry. The deputy chairman, however, emphasised on the need for fiscal consolidation and improvement in the government’s revenue.
Banerjee also told the plan panel that she will work to improve agriculture production and create road infrastructure. She also expressed hope that the Central government will provide help in setting up new infrastructure projects in the state.
Ahluwalia said they had comprehensive discussion on infrastructure projects and asked West Bengal to ponder over the possibility of public private partnership in infrastructure projects. “We have offered support to state government on PPP initiative," Ahluwalia said.