Mamata's ultimatum to Centre on moratorium on interest payment

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Mamata Banerjee
Kolkata, Apr 21: Opening a new front with the Centre, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today issued a 15-day ultimatum to the UPA government to accept her demand for a 3-year moratorium on the huge interest burden of the state on loans. "I have made repeated appeals, my patience is running out.

It will have to be done. We are unable to pay. I have waited for one year and I will wait for another 15 days and then....," the Chief Minister told a convention of WBCS officers but did not specify her course of action to press the demand. She said if any effort was made to deprive the state would not be tolerated and would become 'a big issue'.

Banerjee pointed out that she had taken up the demand of the state, which had inherited a debt burden for the over Rs 2,00,000 crore loans taken by the previous Left Front government, in the past with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the Union Finance Minister.

Asked by reporters about the course of action she contemplated after the 15-day deadline for the grant of the moratorium, the chief minister did not reply. "How can I carry out development work, pay salaries and allow people of Bengal to live if the income is Rs 21,000 crore and interest payout is Rs 22,000 crore", Banerjee said.

Mamata said she could not work to meet the basic needs of the people and the Centre had also stopped CST compensation of Rs 1,500 crore.

Mamata has already been at loggerheads with the Centre on a range of issues including FDI in retail, setting up of National Counter Terrorism Centre, giving policing powers to BSF and Teesta river water-sharing issue with Bangladesh.

About the Centre's claim of giving funds to the state, Banerjee said the central funds received were for backward area development, including junglemahal, which were also received by other states.

PTI

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