The proposal of the second installment is yet to be approved, 11 months after the state had sent it to the Union Ministry of Finance (Department of Economic Affairs).
“We have written to the Ministry several times during this period of 11 months, but the efforts have gone in vain. We have successfully completed the designated development works with the funds given to us in the first installment, maintaining transparency. The Ministry too was prompt in its approach and released the loan on time. But it is now deliberately dragging its feet on the second installment,” a Bengal secretariat source pointed out.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had mentioned the ADB loans for the state’s development in one of her speeches. The delayed clearance has irked officers in Mitra’s own department. “We have a fixed a target for development in front of us as set by the Chief Minister and the Finance Minister.
The deviation of targets due to fund crunch is not desirable. Our Finance Minister will take up these issues with the Ministry of Finance,” the source added.
Meanwhile, the Bengal government has conveyed its support to the GST Bill. Mitra is also heading the empowered committee of state finance ministers, which is discussing the GST. However, the ratification of the GST Bill in the Bengal Assembly has been delayed.
Sources close to the development believe the Chief Minister’s annoyance over the ADB loan issue has put GST ratification in the Assembly on hold. Officers of the state finance department are now busy formulating funding strategies to make up the cost of delay. “We have to borrow money from other sources, which is detrimental for a debt-ridden state,” said the source.
The loan has a moratorium, but later it will get converted into a soft loan, and the rate of interest will be manageable for the state. The loan is a tri-partite agreement and needs a clearance from the screening committee of the Department of Economic Affairs.
Mitra had earlier written to the Union Finance Ministry regarding the issue. The state government had also written to the Finance Secretary, furnishing further details on the proposed loan, seeking speedy clearance.
The second phase of the loan is given after the successful competition of the first. Development works have been undertaken in Bengal in a transparent manner and it is the only state where payment is generated in electronic mode. “The government has also used RBI’s portal e-Kuber in case of the first instalment,” the source added.