India PM Narendra Modi (L) and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee
India PM Narendra Modi (L) and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee

The Centre-State clash is not new and this time West Bengal Chief Minister has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the reduction of funds to the State.

Mamata pegs the amount as Rs.49,619.30 crore which the West Bengal government has not received till January 2020. Despite this, Mamata says the State has repaid Rs.3 lakh crore of debt and interest accumulated from the 34-year-old Left Front regime.

Of this Mamata says the Centre is denying Rs.11,212.51 crore devolution funds as mentioned in the Union budget estimate presented for 2019-20. This she says will impact the implementation of development schemes in the State.

The letter also talks about the change in date to hand over the devolution funds saying that the date was shifted from the 1st to the 20th of the month, which leads to a cash crunch. “This delay in payment of the devolved funds from the Centre is leading to a cash crunch at the beginning of the month when funds are most needed for payment of developmental activity and other commitments. Therefore the date of devolution funds may please be shifted to the first of the month as was the practice earlier,” said Mamata in the letter.

The TMC supremo chose to strike a chord with her party’s ‘Maa Maati Manush’ slogan saying that the State has not received Rs.36,000 crore for Centrally Sponsored Schemes(CSS) which cater to the poorest sections of society. Mamata also spoke of Rs.2330.01 crore which the Centre had reportedly not sent on account of Special Backward Regions Grant Fund.

The letter mentions two other aspects. One of them is the cesses and taxes which Mamata says the Centre relies heavily on, has increased in the last five years from 6.14% in 2014-15 to 18.4% in 2019-20. “Since these do not form a part of the kitty of Central taxes, their devolution to State does not happen. This has become an instrument of reducing the receivables of the State from the Central Government,” says Mamata.

The other aspect is the delay in GST compensation which was due in November 2019 and instead the State received in February 2020. This she says has an impact on the smooth functioning of the State treasury. The letter ends with Mamata urging the Centre to take necessary action.

The West Bengal Chief Minister had spoken about irregularities in fund allocation by the Centre soon after the State budget was presented in the Assembly on the 9th of February by Finance Minister Dr. Amit Mitra. With a little more than a year to go for the 2021 Assembly elections, Mamata is looking to consolidate her position as an effective Chief Minister working for the welfare of her people in her bastion, despite the difficulties.

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