Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra wrote to Union finance minister Nirmal Sithraman urging her to release the entire sum of Rs 5,013 crore as revenue deficit grant allocated to West Bengal for FY21 in the the first quarter itself.
The West Bengal government on Monday urged the Centre to release the entire FY21 revenue deficit grants recommended by the 15th Finance Commission for the state, in three equal instalments during the first three months of this fiscal. On April 3, the Centre had released Rs 6,195 crore (1/12th of the estimate of Rs 74,340 crore for FY21) as the April instalment of the revenue deficit grants to 14 eligible states, including West Bengal.
Bengal finance minister Amit Mitra wrote to Union finance minister Nirmal Sithraman urging her to release the entire sum of Rs 5,013 crore as revenue deficit grant allocated to West Bengal for FY21 in the the first quarter itself. The state received only Rs 417 crore in April.
“This (release of just April instalment) is most disappointing, if not shocking, at this critical hour of need to fight Covid-19 and disburse committed expenditures,” Mitra wrote. He also asked for the Centre to act quickly on suggestions by several chief ministers, including of West Bengal, during a video conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi last week that the fiscal deficit limit under the FRBM norm be enhanced to 5% from mandated 3% for FY21.
Mitra also urged the Centre to allow states to use the accumulated interest on the Consolidated Sinking Fund and requested immediate release of the pending GST compensation. He also sought a moratorium on loan repayment in view of the serious problem of debt management by the states.
“May I urge that the above proposals be urgently put in place so that the state has some resources to fight the menace of Covid-19 and implement welfare measures for the people,” Mitra wrote.
A day after many chief ministers flagged lack of resources at their disposal to fight coronavirus outbreak in the video conference with Modi, the Centre had released Rs 17,287 crore to states, including Rs 11,092-crore ‘State Disaster Response Mitigation Fund’ of all states, and the balance as revenue deficit grant for April.
The West Bengal government claims unpaid GST compensations to the state have risen from Rs 1,700 crore at January-end to over Rs 3,000 crore by end-March.