Mamata: PM to clear dues, help Bengal contain pandemic

  • | Tuesday | 28th July, 2020

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged the Centre to clear the state’s financial dues to bolster its efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday urged the Centre to clear the state’s financial dues to bolster its efforts to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

Banerjee made the comment at an online programme where Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated new ICMR testing facilities in Kolkata, Mumbai and Noida.

At the event, which was also attended by Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath, Modi announced the government’s aim to conduct 10 lakh Covid-19 tests daily. These facilities, which are equipped to examine 10,000 samples a day, can test for Covid-19, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, dengue and other diseases.


At the event, Banerjee told the PM, “Kuchh kuchh to dilaiye [Provide us some of the dues]. We have a huge financial burden. We have already spent Rs 2,500 crore to fight against Covid-19. But we got only Rs 125 crore from the National Health Mission. We also have Rs 53,000-crore payment pending for the last six months, and did not get Rs 4,135-crore GST dues. Please make arrangements for these payments.”

The Chief Minister also demanded the withdrawal of the Centre’s decision to link increased borrowing limits under the Financial Responsibility and Budget Management (FRBM) Act to the fulfillment of certain conditions.

“You have already extended the FRBM limit from 3% to 5%. But, there are some conditions.

So, we are requesting you to withdraw those conditions so that we can easily procure loans from the market for Covid management,” Banerjee said.

The Chief Minister also sought the creation of a separate fund for combating the pandemic, pointing out that her administration was using money from the state disaster relief fund for rehabilitation work undertaken following Cyclone Amphan.

“If we utilise all the money from the state disaster relief fund for post-cyclone restoration work, how are we supposed to fight the pandemic? When floods will come in the state, what will we do then? There is a need for a separate fund to fight the pandemic. I request you to look into it,” Banerjee told Modi.

In a statement released a couple of hours after the meeting, the Centre said it had recently released Rs 1.65 lakh crore GST compensation for states and Union Territories for the 2019-’20 financial year.

“The Central Government has recently released GST compensation of Rs 13,806 crore to states for March 2020. Taking this amount into account, entire compensation upto 2019-’20 has been released to states. The total amount of compensation released for the year 2019-’20 is Rs 1,65,302 crore, whereas the amount of cess collected during the year 2019-’20 was Rs 95,444 crore. In addition, Centre had transferred Rs 33,412 crore from Consolidated Fund of India to the Compensation Fund as a part of an exercise to apportion balance of IGST pertaining to 2017-’18.”

However, a senior state minister said, “They only released Rs 552 crore for March 2020. We did not get Rs 4,135 crore for the months of April and May.”



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