Reiterating its financial demand for a moratorium on debt repayment liability of the state, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday asked Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, who is on a two-day visit to West Bengal, to either waive the loan or delay its repayment schedule.
In a meeting at the state secretariat, Mamata, through state finance minister Amit Mitra, handed over to Jaitley a brief note listing the state’s demands. Among the many included release of funds under various schemes sponsored by the central government.
The Bengal government has for long been complaining about the non-release of funds under centrally sponsored schemes for poverty alleviation like MNREGA. It has, in the past, made clear its staunch disapproval against curtailing the scope and spread of 100 days’ work guarantee scheme. The centre is said to be mulling a proposal to narrow down the scheme to worst-affected blocks in the country only.
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After the meeting, which lasted for nearly 50 minutes, Jaitley told media persons that Bengal has had its share of problems which the central government would try to address. With Mitra standing next to him, Jaitley said that the state government is with the centre on the issue of introduction of goods and services tax.
“There are several issues in which the Centre and the state government require discussion. To me, GST is a priority issue on which Bengal government’s approach is very good… (as) it has accepted the GST in principle,” Jaitley said.
Banerjee and Mitra suggested some points on how to overcome the hurdles to make GST a reality, he added.
The Jaitley-Mamata meet comes close on the heels of the latter’s return from Singapore after a five-day tour of attracting investment.