Whatever stress West Bengal’s fiscal health may be under, chief minister Mamata Banerjee is not ready to compromise on her Santa Claus image, even if she is not quite sure of the source of funds required to meet her charitable ventures.
The chief minister, on Thursday, inaugurated Yuvashree, a monthly dole for unemployed youths in the state which will pose an additional fiscal burden of R180 crore every year on the cash-strapped state exchequer.
Under the scheme, the state will provide Rs 1,500 every month to 100,000 unemployed youths.
However, state finance department officials are not quite sure about whether the project will be viable or not in the long run, since the state government has already exhausted almost 50% of its borriwng limit as fixed by the Fiscal Responsibility & Budget Management (FRBM) Act, 2013.
However, the chief minister admitted at the Yuvashree inauguration that it would not be possible for her to meet the demand for 38% arrear for dearness allowance (DA) of state government employees.
“Some people are clamouring for enhanced DA. But where will it come from? We have no money and a huge accumulated debt. Be grateful that you’re getting your salaries in time,” the chief minister said.
However, she added that, even in the midst of the deep financial crisis, she was not ready to back out of showering doles.
“Some people are criticising and questioning such schemes. But I’m determined to continue with them for the sake of my brothers and sisters,” the chief minister said.
Just two days ago, she had launched Kanyashree, a dole scheme for 2,400,000 unmarried girls in the state aged below 18 years.
Under this scheme, the girls will receive an annual dole of Rs 500 until they reach the age of 18. On attaining adulthood, the girl will receive a one-time amount of Rs 25,000.