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Centre confirms Bengal bailout, Didi not happy

The Centre has agreed to extend the much-awaited financial assistance of Rs 21,614 crore to West Bengal.

india Updated: Aug 07, 2011 00:46 IST
Hindustan Times

The Centre has agreed to extend the much-awaited financial assistance of Rs 21,614 crore to West Bengal.

But while making the announcement on Saturday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee made it clear that it was not enough and she would ask the Centre for further help within a few months.

Though the total amount of Central assistance was Rs 21,614 crore, Banerjee said only Rs 9,240 crore of it was a grant.

"The rest of the money was due to the state anyway," she said at the state secretariat after receiving a fax from Delhi confirming the Centre's decision. "We understand the Centre has certain limitations. But we are not satisfied at all. We can go on for another four to five months with this support and then we will seek Centre's help yet again."

During the hectic negotiations for financial benefits over the past few weeks, the state also negotiated an enhanced borrowing limit of Rs 2,706 crore.

Banerjee, however, was not willing to call it a "bailout package" and described it as an "interim measure."

"We are grateful to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, on whose intervention the package was finalised and Union finance minister Pranab Mukherjee," she said.

Of the Rs 9,240 crore, Rs 8,750 crore would be used for backward regions, Rs 300 crore for agriculture development, Rs 100 crore for green energy development and another

Rs 90 crore for districts affected by Maoists.

Asked if a portion of the grant would be used to pay the salaries and bonus of government employees, the chief minister said it would be used entirely for development.

"I know the Durga puja is approaching and the month of Ramzan is on. I am concerned about the employees but we will manage for the next two to three months," Banerjee added.

The state is currently passing through its worst financial crisis, being saddled with a debt of Rs 2.03 lakh crore.

The debt servicing liabilities are eroding more than 90% of the state's tax revenues.

First Published: Aug 06, 2011 20:41 IST