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'Govt has sufficient resources for projects announced'

Kolkata: Accusing the Centre of hatching a conspiracy to deprive states from its shares out of different taxes by levying more cess and surcharges, state Finance minister Amit Mitra on Saturday said the Bengal government has "sufficient resources" to implement the projects announced by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee while tabling the "holistic" Vote on Account.

Banerjee tabled a Budget proposal of Rs 2,99,888 crore (net) for 2021-22 financial year with a series of new initiatives with stress on infrastructure development and social sector.

In the same breath, Mitra announced that the 15th Finance Commission has granted the country's highest revenue deficit fund to Bengal of Rs 40,115 crore for the next four fiscals, including Rs 17,607 crore for 2021-22, Rs 13,527 crore for 2022-23, Rs 8,353 for 2023-24 and Rs 568 crore for 2024-25.

"Many have raised questions about where the resources to implement the proposed projects are coming from. I would like to say that there is more than Rs 12,000 crore with the state Finance department. This year, we estimate that the Centre, without any known reasons, will once again deduct Rs 10,000 crore from devolution funds.

"But, there is good news as well that we will get a revenue deficit grant of Rs 17,607 crore this year.

"The state has already witnessed tax growth and it rebound in the post-Covid situation. Put together, we have sufficient resources," Mitra said while holding a press conference virtually.

"The state was to get Rs 58,000 crore as a devolution fund. They (the Centre) have cleared Rs 40,000 crore. So, there was a shortfall of Rs 17,000 crore and we assume that around Rs 10,000 crore would be deducted in the coming fiscal," Mitra said taking a swipe at the Centre as they had increased the cess and surcharges to 16 per cent from eight per cent in the past five years.

"Centre is levying cess and surcharges instead of taxes to avoid giving share to the states. Even economists and CAG urged the Centre a few days ago not to increase the same," he added.

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