Rajya Sabha

August 27, 2013

Sukhendu Sekhar Roy speaks on payment of outstanding debt of Bengal

Sir, in reply to my Un-starred Question No. 2060, the hon. Minister of Finance stated on 24th April last year, “A letter has been received from the State Government of West Bengal requesting an interest and repayment moratorium on the outstanding debt of the State in the form of an annual grant for a period of three consecutive years, which is under examination.” On an earlier occasion, the Finance Commission also categorised West Bengal as a debt-stressed State. In spite of that and even after several meetings between the State Government representatives and the Central Government representatives and even after a delegation of Trinamool Congress MPs was assured by the then Finance Minister that the Government of India was exploring ways and means to bail out West Bengal from the debt constraints and something would be done, till date, nothing has been done by the Central Government. We are actually reeling under severe financial crisis.

Sir, it appears that the Centre’s step-motherly attitude, which has culminated into an economic blockade against West Bengal, is a part of the political vendetta since we had withdrawn the support from the UPA-II Government and, therefore, this is happening. While we do not have any objection if other States get special benefits or special status, as is being reported in several newspapers, the demand of the West Bengal Government to put a moratorium on the Rs.2,00,000 crore debt should also be met. It is unique in India because no other State is suffering for the default or the lapse committed by the 34-year old regime which was ruling West Bengal earlier. We have inherited that debt burden from the previous Government. Therefore, I would urge upon the Central Government to have a relook in the matter. While exploring the ways and means for other States, the demand of West Bengal about the debt burden should also be considered in right earnest and in the right perspective.