January 17, 2014
WB Govt ups the ante against Centre for not releasing funds
The state government threatened to launch an agitation against the Centre for withholding funds, which is leaving it in difficulties over allotting funds to departments and undertaking development projects.
After attending the Cabinet meeting at Nabanna, both state Finance and Industry Minister Amit Mitra and Mr Subrata Mukherjee, Panchayat Minister slammed the Centre for undermining the nation`s federal structure by withholding funds that are “the constitutional rights of the state”.
Mr Mukherjee will go on a two-day visit to Delhi on 22 January to meet Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh and Union Finance Minister Mr P Chidambaram.
Mr Mitra said the Centre has committed a grave constitutional impropriety by deducting Rs 425 crore that is part of the devolution of finances between Centre and state for the month of January despite an announcement made in the Budget Speech.
“As per the Finance Commission, the Centre is supposed to return to the states 32.5 per cent of the total revenue earned from all the states and accordingly, West Bengal is to get 3.2 per cent. But the state has been denied its due,” Mr Mitra said.
“On 1 January, the state treasury received Rs 1379 crore instead of Rs 1804 crore from the Centre. We are extremely concerned over this and are in the dark as to what the treasury would receive in February,” said Mr Mitra.
The finance minister complained: “It is surprising that the Centre did not send any official communication to us before deducting our funds”.
Mr Mitra said that the deduction in the state funds receivable from the Centre will leave Bengal government in difficulty over allocating funds to the departments as assured in the Budget.
“It seems that the state alone is maintaining transparency and discipline in following Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act,” he added.
Echoing him, Mr Mukherjee said rural projects like Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yogana (PMGSY) and Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) might get hampered due to the non-release of Central funds.
The Central government is yet to clear Rs 4500 crore under the PMGSY. Neither have funds been sanctioned for constructing 3,500 new roads, Mr Mukherjee said.
Similarly, under the MGNREGS, Rs 100 crore was sanctioned to the state government against Rs 1200 crore last year, the Panchayat Minister added.