With President Pranab Mukherjee finally giving his assent to its long-pending anti-chit fund Bill on Friday, the state government is now preparing to begin probe into the functioning of all such chit fund companies that have been operating in West Bengal for the last two decades.
The government’s focus on the period assumes importance when seen alongside Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee repeated claims that the business of chit fund was “brought and nurtured by the Left Front government”.
Speaking to The Indian Express on the President’s nod to the Bill, Trinamool Congress secretary general and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Partha Chatterjee said: “We have to wait and see for the inclusions and exclusions that will be made to the Bill. But the state government is likely to probe into the operations of all those chit fund companies that have mushroomed in the state in the past two decades. We have long been demanding that chit fund companies doing business since 1980 be investigated. For now, though, we have to go through the Bill.”
While passing the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Establishments Bill, 2013, President Mukherjee placed a rider that the central government’s demand for an amendment to the Bill — change in provisions relating to money laundering — be carried out within six months.
Chatterjee stressed on how he has repeatedly raised the issue (of the Bill pending with the central government) in the legislative assembly. “I have at least five times put it on record in the assembly that the anti-chit fund Bill is pending for almost two years while the central government was carrying out investigation into the scams through is various agencies,” he said.
The final approval to the Bill came days after Mamata held a meeting with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Delhi recently, after which the Bill was sent to the President.
The then UPA government had returned the Bill in April 2013 citing various “overlapping features with certain Central Acts”. The state government then reintroduced the Bill seven months later, which too remained pending with the central government.
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