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Bengal to have special fund for note-ban hit workers, farmers

Criticising the central government's demonetisation move, West Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra on Friday proposed Rs 250 crore to assist workers who lost their jobs due to the note ban.

Mitra, in his budget presentation, also proposed a Rs 100 crore special fund for farmers and agricultural workers who suffered due to the demonetisation.

"There are many workers who have lost their jobs due to demonetisation and came back to the state. They have been suffering a lot. I am proposing to a give one-time grant of Rs 50,000 each to 50,000 jobless workers so that they could start their own venture. For this, I allocate a fund of Rs 250 crore in this budget," Mitra said.

"Farmers and agricultural workers, who depend on cooperative loans, have suffered a lot after implementation of note ban. I propose a Rs 100 crore special fund in order to alleviate their hardships," he said.

Terming the note ban as an 'unprecedented' move, Mitra said scrapping of higher value notes have not only impacted the small and medium enterprises but also destroyed the entire supply chain across sectors. "It adversely impacted the growth prospect of the country's as well as states' economy," the Minister said.
Eminent economists predicted that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) growth could be affected by a range of 1-3.5 per cent, Mitra said.

The state's economic growth rate could also be restricted to 9.27 per cent, he said.

He also touched upon the debt burden of the state. "The loan which was taken 10 years back by the Left Front Government in 2006-2007 has now matured for repayment. In 2016-17, the total burden for principal repayment and interest would be of the tune of Rs 40,000 crore. In 2017-18 this would increase to more than Rs 47,000 crore," Mitra said.

He also proposed to increase monthly honorarium of ICDS (Integrated Child Development Services) and ASHA (Accredited social health activists) workers by Rs 500.
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