Cash-starved Bengal Govt to borrow hugely to meet everyday expenses

| | Kolkata
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Cash-starved Bengal Govt to borrow hugely to meet everyday expenses

Monday, 03 October 2022 | Saugar Sengupta | Kolkata

Starved of liquidity, the Mamata Banerjee Government is likely borrow hugely in coming months to meet its daily expenses, sources in the Government say.

Though no senior bureaucrat or Minister would speak a word about the Government’s plans to meet the rising expenditure on account of payments  towards 100-days’ work scheme, dearness allowance arrears and other schemes inside sources said there were plans to borrow about Rs 20,500 crore from the market in the closing months of this calender year.

According to sources the government is likely to borrow Rs 4,500 crore in October. The amount would go up to Rs 7,000 crore in the month of November and then to Rs 9,000 crore in December. This could take the total loan to Rs 5 lakh 86,000 crore.

The State government had earmarked a total borrowing of Rs 73.268 crore for 2022-23. The previous Marxist government had left a total loan of Rs 1.72 lakh crore in their three decades of rule.

The Opposition BJP and Left have held the Chief Minister responsible for gradually leading Bengal towards a debt trap. “She has been running a Khela-Mela regime highlighted by dolls, grants and fairs to gain narrow political mileage … in the process she has been pushing the common man into debt trap,” said CPI(M) central committee member Sujan Chakrabarty.

The opposition BJP has shown how the Chief Minister had “mindlessly been spending money on unproductive schemes like a grant of Rs 60,000 each to 43,000 clubs organising Durga Puja across Bengal … this has led to an unnecessary expenditure of Rs 252 crore.”

“The Chief Minister was solely responsible for driving away the industry captain Tatas from Bengal … after this no industry worth its salt has invested here in a big way though she has spent crores on early basis in organising Bengal Global Business Summit a mega event to attract investment,” said Samik Lahiri a former CPI(M) MP.

“While she has failed to comply with the High Court order to clear DA of the government employees … while she has failed to clear the dues of the MNREGA workers … she has been spending mindlessly in doles to gain votes … but this cannot go on for ever … she will have to face the consequence,” BJP State president Dr Sukanta Majumdar said.

Even the CAG has expressed concern over increasing gap between gross domestic state product and the total loan taken. While in 2018-19 the State loan was 35.68 percent of the GSDP in 2020-21 it has gone up to about 37.05 percent, the authorities have pointed out. The CAG has also showed how in 2020-21 the Government has spent 71.53 percent of its acquired loan for serving previous debts.

The TMC Government has repeatedly accused the Centre for the present financial crisis the State was in. The Chief Minister recently told in a public meeting how the Centre had withheld about Rs 1 lakh crore that belonged to the State. She also alleged how the Centre was not clearing Rs 4,000 crore for the MNREGA scheme.

The Chief Minister in a recent letter written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi said how the Centre was blocking Bengal’s legitimate grants. She wrote in May this year “You are aware that the wages for MGNREGA form an important part of livelihood of rural people and considering this importance, the Act mandates that the wages must be paid within fifteen days,” adding the wage payment for MNREGA in Bengal was due to the tune of Rs 6,500 crore … i.e Rs 3,000 crore against the wage liabilities and Rs 3,500 crore against non-wage liabilities.

However, Bengal BJP leader Dilip Ghosh said that Centre had done the right thing by stopping the payment as most of the funds that were being sent to the state were being either diverted for political purposes or taken away by the TMC politicians. “The Centre has asked for accounts … Till the State submits the papers how can the Centre clear the funds … this is public money,” he said.

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