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HindustanTimes Sun,13 Jul 2014

UPA extends olive branch with 17% plan hike to Didi

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, April 09, 2013
First Published: 21:55 IST(9/4/2013) | Last Updated: 02:01 IST(10/4/2013)

The UPA government on Tuesday used finance to woo back Trinamool Congress back into the UPA fold and offered a lot of praise to the state government led by TC chief Mamata Banerjee.

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The Planning Commission offered an olive brand to West Bengal by allocating Rs. 30,314 crore for the financial year 2013-14 - a 17% increase from the plan allocation for last financial year.

"We are satisfied with what we have got," Banerjee said after an hour-long meeting with plan panel functionaries. However, the increase in plan allocation is less than last two financial years when Trinamool was part of UPA.

The meeting which was preceded by high drama following heckling of state finance minister Amit Mitra and Banerjee by CPIM's student wing the Students Federation of India (SFI) had its imprint in the meeting with not a single plan panel functionary raising any questions about functioning of the state government.

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Both plan panel deputy chairperson Montek Singh Ahluwalia and planning secretary Sindhushree apologised for the incident even as planning minister Rajiv Shukla praised the state government for its performance.

Ahluwalia was also sympathetic toward Banerjee raising the issue of environment roadblocks for major projects in the state.

"I have asked the chief minister to send me the list of the held back projects. I will take them up with the appropriate ministries," he said.

The plan panel was willing to extend support to West Bengal to improve its industrial performance through skill upgradation, better use of technology and improving business regulatory environment.

When Mukherjee raised the issue of increasing liability of the state government to fund centrally sponsored schemes Ahluwalia assured her of help saying the Central government would introduce flexi-funds in the schemes enabling the state to use some part of the money as per their wish.

The plan panel has circulated a Cabinet note allowing 10% of the money allocated to the states under flexi funds.

In the same vein Banerjee mentioned that she would be raising the issue of increasing debt of the state government with finance minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday.

"I know it is an issue dealt by the finance ministry," she said.

The plan panel was willing to extend support to West Bengal to improve its industrial performance through skill upgradation, better use of technology and improving business regulatory environment. 

The plan panel was, however, left wondering when Banerjee sought money for welfare of Bangladeshi migrants saying no Central funds were available to deal with political refugees. She had another unusual demand to make Kolkata hub for film production as scope for growth of Bollywood was limited.


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