April 1, 2014
Trinamool responds to Chidambaram`s hocus pocus
Finance Minister P. Chidambaram has attempted to contradict the logical demand of Mamata Banerjee led Trinamool Congress Govt of West Bengal for a Moratorium on the 2 lakh crore plus debt burden thrust upon it by the previous Left Front Govt (which ruled and ruined Bengal for 34 years) on the following lame excuses:
Chidambaram: Pranab Mukherjee, former Finance Minister extended financial package for Bengal under BRGF which is being continued
Trinamool: The fact remains that allocation was made to different states under the special BRGF scheme including West Bengal and this was not a special favour to Bengal as has been portrayed by Mr. Chidambaram. For example, Bihar received special BRGF funds as early as 2005. Therefore, Mr. Chidambaram is deliberately misleading the people of this country.
Chidambaram: There is no provision in the Budget or any scheme under which Centre would have paid interest for Bengal once the moratorium is granted
Trinamool: The Finance Minister might have hinted of repayment of public debts like Small Savings, etc. However, tangible Scheme could have been envisaged or for that matter Budgetary provisions could have been made in the same manner the scheme of BRGF was introduced for backward regions of the country, had there been compassionate and sympathetic consideration on the part of Chidambaram and his predecessor-in-office).
Chidambaram: Debt ridden states like Punjab and Kerala would have also demanded for such moratorium
Trinamool: True. It is the Union Finance Ministry which, by issuing an official memorandum, declared West Bengal, Kerala and Punjab as “debt stressed states” in India. This was in line with the opinion of the Finance Commission of India which spoke of the need for debt restructuring of “debt stressed states” of the nation. Thereafter, a committee was formed in the Finance Ministry and a series of meetings were held and assurances were given, both at administrative and political levels. It was also stated on the floor of Parliament, that the demand for a Moratorium would be considered in right earnest. However, the Centre made a U-turn after TMC withdrew support from the Govt in protest against its anti-people policies.
The Congress is still carrying out its political vendetta and an unprecedented indirect economic blockade has been put against the people of Bengal. Centre has taken away more than 76,000 crores of rupees from Bengal during the past 35 months towards repayment of debt and interest. West Bengal was also denied the payment of another 11,000 crores on different commitments made by the Centre, some of which violate Bengal`s constitutional rights. Such ugly action is still on.
How the Centre is depriving Bengal of funds
In fact, while the Central Govt was denying West Bengal a Moratorium or any kind of debt restructuring, it was giving commitments of 2 billion dollars for the restructuring of the debt of Greece.
Why our Union Govt should not come forward to save Bengal or for that matter Punjab and Kerala, particularly when it allowed the previous Left Front regime in Bengal to perpetrate and perpetuate financial anarchy for more than 3 decades without adhering to fiscal discipline and resorting to FRBM?
Article 1 of the Constitution of India stipulates, “India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.” Hence, it cannot be a unitary state. Centre does not have any extra-territorial jurisdiction to collect revenues, but from the states of India only. Therefore, it is the constitutional obligation and duty of the Centre to extend helping hand to the States in the hours of crisis. Centre cannot shirk off its responsibility over the mounting debt burden of Bengal as it remained silent onlooker to ghastly show of fiscal tyranny of its erstwhile (and probably would be) ally, the CPI(M) in West Bengal for political quid pro quo.
We would like to pose one last question to Mr. Chidambaram. Is there any Constitutional Scheme or Budgetary provision that allows the Central Government to grant moratorium and restructuring of loan and interest in cases of NPA and bad debts of PSU banks worth lakhs of crores? What is the quantum of debts/taxes written off by the Centre during the past 34 years? Who are the beneficiaries? Capitalists or Crony Capitalists, Mr. Chidambaram? Does it not establish that your Ministry is for the Chiselors, by the Chiselors and for the Chiselors?