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Mamata announces Rs 500-crore relief for chit fund investors

Will raise part of the amount from additional tobacco tax

Written by Sabyasachi Bandopadhyay | Kolkata | Published: April 25, 2013 3:32:47 am

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 Centre and erstwhile Left Front government 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 deducting 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.

CPM wants CBI to probe chit fund scam

NEW DELHI: With the Trinamool Congress on the back foot after the revelations made by Saradha Group CMD Sudipta Sen,the CPM on Wednesday went on an offensive against its rival demanding a CBI inquiry into the chit fund scam.

CPM general secretary Prakash Karat said the Trinamool cannot wash its hands as right from the beginning it was a “joint venture” between the TMC and Saradha Group. “We are demanding a CBI inquiry immediately because it is a case of large scale criminal misappropriation of fund. And it is not confined to West Bengal alone. It affects Assam and Jharkhand as well. It has inter-state implications and other ramifications. The Centre should order a CBI inquiry without delay,” he said.

Asked about the revelations made by Sen in his letter to the CBI and demands for the resignation of the two TMC Rajya Sabha MPs who have come under the scanner,Karat said “let the CBI investigate”. He quickly added,“Right from the beginning it was a joint venture between the Trinamool Congress and the Saradha Group. It needs to be investigated fully.”

The CPM has been accusing the Trinamool Congress government of supporting chit fund companies and had even taken up the matter with the Prime Minister last year.

“The chit fund companies have been close to Trinamool… that is very clear,” senior CPM leader Sitaram Yechury said. While Left Front MLAs from Bengal met the PM in August last year,a delegation of Left MPs had met him in December seeking the Centre’s intervention to safeguard the interests of small investors.

Yechury said the previous Left Front government had in 2003 brought a Bill — the West Bengal Protection of Interest of Depositors in Financial Institutions Act — to protect the interests of small investors,especially from chit fund companies. ENS

Gogoi too demands CBI probe

GUWAHATI: A DAY after Saradha Group CMD Sudipta Sen was arrested in Jammu and Kashmir for his alleged involvement in a multi-crore financial scam across several states,Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi late Wednesday night announced that his government was “seriously contemplating” to move the CBI against this and several other companies involved in swindling public money.

Interestingly,Sen in his letter purportedly written to the CBI has named a minister of the Gogoi cabinet among the politicians who had allegedly milked the company for money. This has triggered off a political storm in Assam with opposition parties and the local media speculating who is the minister involved in the scam.

Samudra Gupta Kashyap

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