Govt’s Rs 500-crore relief balm for investors

Will raise part of the amount from additional tobacco tax.

Written by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay | Kolkata | Published: April 25, 2013 3:52 am

Will raise part of the amount from additional tobacco tax.

In order to provide some relief to the investors of Saradha Group,which went bust last week,the state government is going to build a Rs 500 crore fund to be distributed among the poorest of the investors.

The government will impose an additional 10 per cent tax on tobacco to mop up a part of the money — about Rs 150 crore. “We will rustle up the remaining amount from some other source,’’ Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said on Wednesday. At present,the state government charges a tax of 25 per cent on tobacco. “You should smoke more so that we can collect the money,’’ Mamata said,tongue firmly in cheek. The money will be in addition to the sale proceeds of the Saradha Group’s property.

The government will shortlist beneficiaries from among the names of investors who will enrol with the Justice Shyamal Sen Inquiry Commission,set up to probe the scam and suggest remedial measures. “The commission will fan out in districts and will receive complaints from people who have been affected. Advertisements will be run in the print media shortly. From among the names forwarded by the commission we will select those who have been worst affected,who have lost everything,’’ Mamata said.

She chose the occasion to lash out at the Central and erstwhile Left Front governments for their alleged indifference to the menace. “The Left Front government sat quietly while chit funds cropped up. They should have passed the Bill much earlier. The Central government,which is so adept in deducting the money from our revenue for repayment of loans,has been silent while the chit funds did their murky business here. Now you are firing salvos at us,’’ Mamata said.

She reiterated her government’s stand that whoever is involved in the scam will not be spared. “The CPM never arranged for the return of money to the investors of Sanchayeeta that went bust in the ‘80s. The death of its founder was unnatural; nobody knows whether it was suicide or homicide. Now the same people are creating trouble on the streets,” Mamata said. The state government is convening a special session of the Assembly on April 29 to pass a new legislation to rein in the non-banking financial institutions,she added.

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