Friday, October 28, 2011

What about coal royalty arrears? : Asim Dasgupta

The Hindu, October 25, 2011 00:00 IST

“Why no mention made of this legitimate demand by State?”
Even as Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee pressed for a special financial package for West Bengal, the former Finance Minister, Asim Dasgupta, pointed out that the State government had made no mention of coal royalty arrears to the tune of Rs. 5,000 crore payable by the Centre. “The arrears in coal royalties are a legitimate right of West Bengal.
The order given by the Supreme Court establishes this right. At least Rs. 5,000 crore is payable but we find that this demand has not been made by the State,” Dr. Dasgupta told journalists here on Monday.
“No other State can make this claim as they have already received the royalty. West Bengal is the only State that has been deprived.”
As for the demand for a special financial package, Dr. Dasgupta said, “It was never done when the Left Front was in power, but we will be pleased if the Centre provides assistance to the State.”
However, the the State government, while demanding assistance from the Centre, had made statements that were “misleading and incomplete,” he said.
The State had claimed that it was paying 94 per cent of its total revenue as salaries, pensions and interest. However, according to the books placed during the Assembly budget session, West Bengal had spent only 74 per cent of its total revenue and only 63 per cent of its total income under these heads, he said.
Also, the State borrowed heavily from the market, Rs. 10,000 crore in the five months the new government had been in power.
The market borrowings of the Left Front government during the same period last year were Rs. 5,000 crore, he said.

· No special package was given when Left Front was in favour
· In pressing demand, Mamata government has made ‘misleading' claims

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