The legacy issues related to high debt of West Bengal need restructuring in a multi-pronged manner, spread over a longer period, the state government has said in a memorandum to the Finance Commission. The 15th Finance Commission, chaired by N K Singh, will visit the state from July 16-18 and hold meetings with the Chief Minister, ministers and other officials.
In a memorandum submitted to the Commission, the state government has said that it faces numerous challenges in its developmental stride. “The fiscal picture in West Bengal is characterised by a high Debt-GSDP ratio and a low own tax revenue-GSDP ratio,” it said, according a statement by the Finance Commission.
Outstanding debt has remained consistently high over the period 2000-01 to 2017-18, it added.. “The present government has contracted high debt from the previous government, which has put the onerous burden for servicing debt liability on it. It has greatly circumscribed other developmental expenditure. Restructuring of legacy debt is structural issue which would need multi-pronged and coherent action spread over a longer period,” the memorandum said.
“West Bengal’s low ratio of development expenditure to GSDP and Capital Outlay to GSDP need careful consideration. On the brighter side, Social Sector Expenditure to GSDP has been higher than the all state average.” it added. West Bengal is the fifth state to be visited by the 15th Finance Commission as part of its state visits to understand the needs of each state. The members of the Commission include Shaktikanta Das, Anoop Singh, Ashok Lahiri and Ramesh Chand.