Mamata lobbies with Montek for West Bengals debt waiver

Written by Nistula Hebbar | Nistula Hebbar | New Delhi | Updated: Apr 11 2012, 09:13am hrs
Planning Commission deputy chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia has been cast in a new role by West Bengal chief minister Mamta Banerjee, who during a meeting with him to finalise the West Bengal Plan outlay, requested him to lobby for a moratorium on repayment of the state's debts.

I know that it is not in the hands of the deputy chairman to announce a waiver, but he is a good friend of the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) and we want to use his good offices for our pressing concerns, said Banerjee after the meeting. West Bengal is a debt-ridden state. If our income is R21,000 crore and we are paying R20,000 crore as interest, then how come will we address the state's issue

She added: We have not created this problem. It is a Left legacy. But people are facing this problem because of the legacy. That is why we want minimum three year moratorium on repayment.Ahluwalia, on his part, said that a moratorium was in the realm of the finance ministry. The Plan itself was approved at R25,910 crore, a 16% hike from last year, and a at least a R1,000-crore hike from earlier estimates for this year's allocation.

I am happy to announce that a Plan size of R25,910 crore has been approved for West Bengal for 2012-13. That is an increase of over 16% compared to the allocation in previous financial year, Ahluwalia said after the meeting. During the discussion on the Plan outlay, Ahluwalia said: We had comprehensive discussion on infrastructure projects and possibility of using PPP for that. We have offered support to state government on PPP initiative.