New Delhi: The Centre has bowed down once again to the demands of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. A day after Mamata gave a 15 day deadline for waiver of interest for the state's debts, the Centre says it will look into the issue.
Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee has set up a panel to study Mamata's demand. Mamata wants a three year moratorium on all interest payments for the state.
The Finance Minister, who represents a West Bengal Parliamentary seat in the Lok Sabha, said it will be difficult to make any further comment on the issue right now.
"It is difficult to say right now, but during the reply to the general debate in Parliament, I had mentioned that there are certain debt-stressed states, which have been identified by the 13th finance commission Kerala, Punjab and West Bengal. I have appointed a committee under the chairmanship of Secretary Expenditure to make recommendations on how these issues could be tackled," Pranab said.
Pranab said the larger issue of loan adjustment is normally dealt by the Finance Commission in the Indian system. "As I understand West Bengal Chief Minister is demanding that there should be a moratorium for the interest payment of their outstanding loan (which) is more than Rs 200,000 crore. So how to address that issues --- interest payment is roughly around Rs 23,000 crores per year, have a declaration on the moratorium for three to four years and also to adjust that," he said.
Mamata had on Saturday said that any effort to deprive her state will not be tolerated and will become "a big issue" as she pointed out that she had already made repeated appeals to the Centre on the matter.
"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 Centre's crucial ally had said.
With additional information from PTI